It’s a bit ironic. Nigel Warrior, like Todd Kelly Jr., is on this list but wasn’t even close to our list of Tennessee football players most likely to receive postseason recognition. But again, that has everything to do with just how much we expect the secondary to struggle this season.
Even with that, though, Warrior is the best player on the team. Like Kelly, Warrior is the son of a legendary UT defensive back from the early 1990s. And he is living up to the legacy of Dale Carter Jr. already. Despite questions in the secondary, Warrior remains on preseason watch lists himself.
Warrior is the one guy in the secondary we are sure will work out. In fact, Jeremy Pruitt and Kevin Sherrer will desperately need him to be able to offset these issues at defensive back. So he’s not just the best player on the Vols, he’s one of the most crucial players on the Vols.
Last year, Warrior was second on the team in tackles with 83, and that was as a safety! He also three and a half tackles for a loss, a sack, three pass deflections, three forced fumbles and a fumble recovery, and an interception returned for a touchdown.
Simply put, Warrior did everything. There’s not a weakness in his game, and that’s why he’s going to be an amazing player again. In fact, going into his junior year, he figures to take another major step. And while the secondary as a whole will struggle, Warrior is a guy who can pick up the schematic changes quickly enough.
It’s ironic that Tennessee football’s best player this year is going to be part of the worst position unit. But Warrior is a different type of player. And if Kelly can return to form on the other side at safety, he will be able to do a lot to offset what will inevitably be massive shortcomings at cornerback. Maybe the Vols won’t be so unlucky after all.