There is no unit on the Tennessee football defense that is more of a sure bet than safety. In fact, when the season begins, it could become the strongest unit the Vols have across offense, defense and special teams.
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But specifically on defense, the linebackers have the most potential. The defensive line has the most concern. In the secondary, though, there is a ton of potential and a ton of proven talent already there.
Two seniors, Nigel Warrior and Baylen Buchanan, bring proven reliability at safety and nickel respectively. They also bring more star potential after one full year of experience in Jeremy Pruitt’s 3-4 system.
Then there is real, proven star potential among the youth. Bryce Thompson already showed it as a freshman All-American cornerback last year, and Alontae Taylor provided flashes at the other cornerback spot. Those guys have the two cornerback slots locked up as sophomores and could take a major leap forward.
Finally, at free safety, Trevon Flowers has a ton of potential and figures to do well. But if not him, Theo Jackson has a chance to make great strides, and Deangelo Gibbs, if he gets his eligibility waiver, could do it as well. So somebody is bound to take a step forward and prove to be a competent safety.
Simply put, Tennessee football is going to be set with its first string by the time the season starts. This unit could be elite. Add in the epic recruiting class for this past year, and Pruitt has some solid depth as well. So this is possibly the strongest unit on the team and has the most potential as well. With Pruitt and Derrick Ansley coaching them, it’s even greater.