As we have said multiple times, Tennessee football is wide open with its cornerback situation. That includes the nickel spot, which figures to suffer greatly after the early departure of Rashaan Gaulden to the NFL. That guy is going to be an early star with the Carolina Panthers.
Anyway, the nickel spot seemed a given for Shawn Shamburger when Jeremy Pruitt took over. He made enough of an impact last season for the Vols. However, he has struggled with consistency in Pruitt’s and Kevin Sherrer’s defense ever since they installed it.
As a result, that spot is a little more open. You could see somebody come out of nowhere to take it. One of the three main safeties could also move into there. But if neither of those things work out, and if Shamburger continues to struggle, Cheyenne Labruzza could definitely take that spot.
The 5’11” 188-pound redshirt freshman suffered a season-ending knee injury last year after seeing action in four games. But he should be fully healthy and is a guy who could thrive in the new 3-4 scheme.
Labruzza is a physical defensive back who actually has the talent to play any position in the secondary. That’s a huge plus, and it gives him a great chance to work his way into the starting rotation. He was already No. 2 in the nickel spot in the spring, and that was coming off of knee surgery.
So there’s plenty of reason to believe he could take another step either by the start of the season or into the middle of the season. And that’s why we have him on our list as one of the top dark-horse Vols for 2018.