Stephens had his reps decreased after the first two weeks of spring practice, in which he'd been working with the first team. He struggled in the first scrimmage of spring, though not incredibly more so than Matt Simms, and Tyler Bray didn't see much action with or against the ones. But in the last week it's been Simms and Bray who have taken first and second team rotations, leaving Stephens out of the mix.
This ends what I'm sure was a frustrating relationship with Tennessee - #17 played in seven games in 2008 under Phillip Fulmer, had an injury that prevented him from competing with Jonathan Crompton for the starting job under Lane Kiffin last spring, and now apparently wasn't going to be the choice of Derek Dooley and Jim Chaney to start in 2010.
Stephens is by all accounts, including his new head coach's, a good kid who just wants to start somewhere before his college career draws to a close. Timing and the depth chart have indicated lately that that somewhere wasn't going to be Tennessee:
"Nick is in his fifth year and has been trying to get on the field his whole career. He just felt it was too risky to go through another season, because he just wants to play.
"We hate to lose Nick but I certainly understand it. It's a fifth-year quarterback who hasn't played. You go play football to play, and I understand the emotion of it."