1. Jaylen McCollough
That 2019 season-ending injury to Trevon Flowers is what forced Jaylen McCollough into the starting lineup. The two started together last year, and like Flowers, McCollough struggled at times with the adjustments given the departures and absences we mentioned. This year, there’s another one with the departure of Bryce Thompson.
However, McCollough is more experienced. The 6’0″ 205-pound junior is a physical specimen. He battled an injury throughout a lot of last year but still had eight starts, and over the past two years, he has 76 tackles, 53 of which were solo, to go along with five and a half tackles for a loss, a sack and four pass deflections. Fully healthy, he and Flowers have the safety spots locked up.
2. Tyus Fields
Once a four-star recruit, Tyus Fields only played one game last year after appearing in four while taking a redshirt as a freshman. He is still young, but he’s clearly a backup at this point. Like Cheyenne Labruzza, though, Fields could see a larger role with Theo Jackson more at nickel.
Key Lawrence’s transfer to the Oklahoma Sooners also puts more pressure on Fields to further burst onto the scene. This is his year as a rotational player for Tennessee football, and if he comes through, he could be starting by 2022 alongside McCollough.