Projected starters at cornerback
Sophomore; 5’11” 181 lbs; Irmo, S.C.
Tennessee football’s breakout freshman last year, Bryce Thompson became a freshman All-American with three interceptions in 2018. He’s going to take over as the No. 1 cornerback this year, and after last year, he could become a superstar.
Thompson is great in coverage, incredibly physical given his multiple tackles for a loss, and can force turnovers. So, provided he stays healthy, his potential is through the roof heading into his sophomore season.
Sophomore; 6’0″ 193 lbs; Manchester, Tenn.
Like Bryce Thompson, Alontae Taylor committed in 2018 as an athlete and became a standout freshman for the Vols at cornerback. He’s going to have that other starting cornerback spot locked up, setting up UT for the future.
Taylor has raw potential on the level of Thompson, and at times he showed it as well last year. Thompson just had more opportunities. But you could see Taylor take the same leap forward this year if things go right.
Projected starters at safety
Nigel Warrior – Strong safety
Senior; 6’0″ 190 lbs; College Park, Ga.
The most proven, reliable player for Tennessee football, Nigel Warrior has started for two and a half years at strong safety. Last year, he was quietly very productive in the transition to Jeremy Pruitt’s 3-4 system.
This year, though, with more experience in the system and the secondary more settled, he could have a superstar senior season. The son of Dale Carter Jr. has a great chance to live up to his dad’s name now, and it’s all in front of him to do.
Trevon Flowers – Free safety
Sophomore; 5’11” 193 lbs; Tucker, Ga.
Free safety is the most open position in the secondary for starters this year. Trevon Flowers saw action early on last year, then he got injured, but then he came back with a strong finish to the season, showing promise for the future.
As a very athletic guy who, given his baseball experience, can cover a lot of field, the free safety spot should be Flowers’s to lose. He should hold onto it, and this could be his breakout year similar to Thompson last year.
Projected starter at nickel
Senior; 5’11” 196 lbs; Lawrenceville, Ga.
He’s not as athletic as the other guys, but he’s one of the smartest players out there. As a result, Baylen Buchanan, a mark of stability and son of an NFL defensive back, just like Nigel Warrior, should go out with a bang his senior season and have the nickel spot to himself. Reliable like Warrior, another year in the 3-4 system should give him a chance to stand out as well as Warrior. So he should have a great senior campaign.