Tennessee football has a lot of bodies in the secondary. They have 23 players overall, 17 of whom are on scholarship. As a result, Jeremy Pruitt and Kevin Sherrer have a lot to work with to find the guys they want to use.
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Add in the fact that Nigel Warrior is a proven commodity, Todd Kelly Jr. knows how to play great if he can get healthy, and Baylen Buchanan can pick up systems quickly, and the Vols have just enough to work with. Fans have players to be excited about.
However, it won’t be enough. Sorry, but the 3-4 transition is difficult enough. New starters at corner and nickel make it even rougher. Given what we saw in the spring, this is going to be the weakest unit for the Vols this year.
The secondary may be decent enough to not cost the Vols too many games. But they will be the unit Tennessee football needs to hide the most. They weren’t atrocious back in March and April for nothing, and too much history shows that’s always a bad sign.
There is a bright future on the Rocky Top horizon in the secondary, but there are too many questions this year surrounding the team. Expect the cornerbacks to get beat and misread plays a lot. Learning to play man-to-man press coverage after years of playing off guys is simply too much to overcome.
Everything will come down to whether or not Warrior, Kelly and Abernathy can cover for the mistakes made in the first line of defense in the secondary. They will determine whether or not this unit is awful or just not a strength.
Safety play is the one bit of decent news for Tennessee football. The Vols have a chance to be decent there, but don’t count on a good secondary at all this year. The only questions is going to be if it is a terrible unit or not.
Note: This preview is part of a series of previews for the 2018 Tennessee football season. For a look at other positions, please click here.