At the end of spring practice, the secondary was one of many positions that seemed like it would be of huge concern for Tennessee football. That unit struggled with the rest of the defense in the Spring Game, but it was also awful last year, suffered a key loss in Bryce Thompson to the NFL and then key transfers in Key Lawrence, Shawn Shamburger and Kenney Solomon.
Well, recently, Josh Heupel has been in the process of rebuilding that unit back up, and on Thursday, he added a crucial player to do just that. Brandon Turnage, a transfer defensive back from the Alabama Crimson Tide, has joined the Vols, according to Patrick Brown of GoVols247.
Once a four-star recruit across the board out of Mississippi in the 2019 class, Turnage redshirted at Alabama as a true freshman and saw limited action this year. Listed as a cornerback specifically across the board who stands at 6’1″ 186 pounds, he initially committed to the Georgia Bulldogs, but that fell through, and now he is joining Tennessee football.
With the commitment of Turnage, a graduate of Lafayette High School in Oxford, Miss., the Vols are now actually looking pretty good in the secondary. They still have Alontae Taylor, Kenneth George Jr. and Warren Burrell at cornerback. Jaylen McCollough and Trevon Flowers are still at safety, and Theo Jackson can play safety or nickel.
Now Heupel has added two key transfers, both out of Alabama. Auburn Tigers transfer defensive back Kamal Hadden committed to the staff bay in May. With Hadden and Turnage, UT at least has the depth it needs at cornerback.
Although Turnage specifically hasn’t played much at the college level yet, it’s clear that he has potential. After all, everybody has to wait to play in Nick Saban’s system, and he likely would have emerged into an elite player soon enough.
Landing him away from Georgia and Alabama is huge for Tennessee football as well. It’s also huge that he has at least three years of eligibility left. The Vols are starting to get on a roll, and while they lost a lot early on in the transfer portal, Heupel is now adding plenty of talent back. That has to count for something.