Vols taking the green off this spring

Posted by ESPN.com's Chris Low

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. -- Lane Kiffin promised some serious competition during his first spring at Tennessee.

How serious?

The Vols found out Tuesday as they opened spring practice without anybody, including quarterbacks, wearing a green non-contact jersey.

"We're not going to protect anybody," Kiffin said. "We're not good enough to do that. Maybe some day that happens down the road. But right now, we've got to figure out who can play."

The only starting spot that won't be up for grabs is the one that belongs to All-America junior safety Eric Berry. Otherwise, it's wide open.

"None of these guys have done enough, outside of Eric (Berry), to say they know how to perform at a really high level," Kiffin said. "We've got to figure it out at every position, who can play for us. I think when you do that, you'll find surprises."

One guy who won't be out there for at least the first part of spring is junior quarterback Nick Stephens, who broke his right wrist during drill work last week.

That means senior Jonathan Crompton and sophomore B.J. Coleman will share the first-team quarterback snaps for much of the spring, likely turning a three-man battle into a two-man battle.

No quarterback likes to get hit, but Coleman said the threat of being hit should be good for all the quarterbacks.

"Seeing how fast you make decisions with that on your mind ... I think that will make us better quarterbacks in general and get the ball out of our hands a lot faster," Coleman said.

Coleman, who's from Chattanooga, also likes the idea of having a clean slate this spring. A year ago at this time, it was Crompton's job, and everybody knew it.

"I like the pressure situations, and we will see who comes out on top at the end of the spring," Coleman said.