Tennessee has a pretty big hole on the roster at cornerback, despite what coach Jeremy Pruitt said on National Signing Day.
That gap is evident in the number of cornerbacks Tennessee is pursuing in the Class of 2019 cycle. Also, the coaching staff is telling the recruits as much.
Tennessee is pitching the notion that cornerback is a critical need to Rocky Mount, N.C. native Shyheim Battle.
“Coach [Terry] Fair told me they are in need of corners right now,” Battle told SEC Country. “My size gives me an advantage coming in and playing early. I’d have a chance to play early if I came there. And [they are] trying to build.”
There is a desperate need to add some depth quickly on the outside, which makes it true to push this angle. It is also pretty smart because it’s what Battle values most in recruiting.
The 6-foot-2, 173-pound Battle places early playing time above anything else, while playing in-state won’t influence his decision at all.
“Right now, that doesn’t even matter to me,” Battle said. “I’m going to do what’s best for me. My parents and family are going to come with me wherever I go. Wherever I feel like is the best fit for me and I can get a lot of playing time early on, that’s what I’m going to do.”
Battle wants to “get his name out there” early in his college career and then build on his reputation each season.
Battle ran a 4.62 40-yard dash last summer. He believes it can be closer to a mid 4.5 this summer when he gets timed. His size is what makes him appealing to this coaching staff. The Vols value big, physical corners who don’t need much help in coverage.
“My tacking is what I do best,” Battle said about his top attributes on the football field. “I love to make plays. I love playing man and 1-on-1. Guys that want to talk trash, talk trash back. That’s what I like to do.”
N.C. State and Ohio State are recruiting the 3-star cornerback the hardest right now. Tennessee is pushing for a visit from Battle in April, perhaps for the Orange and White game.
Brian Niedermeyer, Tennessee’s youngest, most energetic coach on the recruiting trail, has spent the most time talking with Battle. The 29-year-old has made a good impression with Battle over the phone. He even showed up to one of Battle’s basketball games this season.
“He’s pretty cool,” Battle said. “I’d love to get up there and meet him in person.”