He already was going to be an important part of the team, but with Bryce Thompson suspended indefinitely and Baylen Buchanan out, Alontae Taylor is now a huge deal at cornerback. Despite being just a sophomore, he’s one of only two proven players back in Tennessee football’s secondary at 6’0″ 193 pounds.
In 2018, while Thompson got all the national recognition, Taylor was good in his own right. He started nine games and played in all 12, coming away with 40 tackles, a tackle for a loss, two pass deflections, a forced fumble, a defensive touchdown and even a blocked punt.
There were numerous fundamental ways to suggest Taylor was slightly better than Thompson. After all, Thompson didn’t get a blocked punt or defensive touchdown. Simply put, Taylor found lots of ways to be effective as a freshman. The only thing that really held him back was the fact that he was ejected twice for targeting penalties, which knocked him out of rhythm at times.
But Jeremy Pruitt was genius moving him, as a four-star athlete, to corner. And he should do great working with Derrick Ansley. This year, Taylor is penciled in as a starting cornerback, and now he’s the top starting cornerback. Guys like Warren Burrell and Shawn Shamburger will be the other main guys to play nickel and the other corner spot, but Taylor is now the star among that group.