Fall camp is officially underway. After limitations in the spring for obvious reasons, Tennessee football has a full-on position battle all over the field now. Over the next four weeks, with all the new transfers in the program and the full recruiting class there, Josh Heupel will be tasked with finding starters at every position to fit his new scheme.
Of course, at the same time, as a first-year head coach, he and his assistants will have to figure out what type of schemes they are going to run on both sides of the ball. This is what the preseason is all about.
While every position is up for grabs, it’s clear that certain units are more wide open than others. As we get set to break down which ones are more open, we’re going to base this off what we saw in the spring, what Heupel has said, the depth of each group and past performances. Taking all that into account, this is our ranking of Tennessee football’s biggest position battles for 2021.
It’s likely that Theo Jackson wins this spot. He mostly had it last year after Shawn Shamburger shut down the season, and with Shamburger in the transfer portal, Jackson is the one player on the list who has the experience to handle the role. However, given how open Tim Banks is right now about trying to find a new defensive scheme, this isn’t a given.
The Vols added two transfer cornerbacks in the offseason in Kamal Hadden and Brandon Turnage, and it’s possible that either of them takes on this role. Safety Cheyenne Labruzza is another veteran who missed the spring but is now back, and he has experience in the role as well.
Even Kenneth George Jr., who will likely be in the rotation at cornerback, could take this spot. While Jackson is the favorite and has paid his dues, it’s actually open for the taking. Regardless of his scheme, Banks has always leaned heavily on the nickel package, so Tennessee football will definitely need somebody to step up here.