Crompton beats out Stephens at QB

The race was tighter than some might have expected, but fifth-year senior Jonathan Crompton has emerged as Tennessee's starting quarterback.

Tennessee coach Lane Kiffin made the announcement Monday night following practice and said Crompton's entire body of work this preseason won him the job.

"It really came down to Jonathan was a little more accurate," Kiffin said. "Both guys made a number of plays during camp. Both protected the ball very well with very low interception numbers and very good numbers in general in all preseason games [scrimmages] combined. Jonathan had a slight edge for accuracy."

Nick Stephens, a junior, made a strong push last week, and Kiffin said leading into last Saturday's scrimmage that he was committed to making a decision sometime this week.

Crompton and Stephens split the starting duties last season, and they both struggled in one of the worst offensive showings for a Tennessee team in the last two decades. They combined to throw just eight touchdown passes with eight interceptions.

In five of their last six games, the Vols finished with fewer than 140 passing yards.

But in this new offense, Crompton has appeared to be more comfortable with what Kiffin is asking him to do. And even though he's been named the starter, he's taking nothing for granted.

"We all know we're going to be playing for our jobs in Week 10. That's a good thing. The more you compete, the better you get," said Crompton, who's thrown nine career touchdowns and nine career interceptions while completing 50.6 percent of his passes.

"The minute you stop competing, you get complacent ... and that's when things start going downhill. I don't see that happening around here."

Kiffin emphasized that he has confidence in both Crompton and Stephens.

"It's weird to say it, but if you listed the five most improved players from spring, Nick would be one of them even though he didn't win the starting job," Kiffin said. "If something were to happen to Jonathan, I feel very confident that Nick would come in and do a great job for us.

Chris Low covers SEC football for ESPN.com.