KNOXVILLE, Tenn. — One of the best receivers in the Class of 2018 lined up on the opposite side of the ball Saturday. Alontae Taylor, a 4-star recruit out of Manchester, Tenn., played cornerback on the Orange team during a 34-7 win in the annual spring game.
Afterward, coach Jeremy Pruitt explained why the early enrollee was not listed on the depth chart as a wideout.
“Alonate’s learning how to play the position,” Pruitt said. “He really wants to be a wide receiver, and he’d done a good job for nine practices. But I wanted to work him at corner for three practices and then re-eval. After the third practice, we decided to give some more, just to give him a little more experience. Didn’t think it was enough.”
The primary factor here is depth; Tennessee signed only one cornerback in its most recent recruiting class, and the position group was already thin. In all, Taylor spent five practices at his new position before recording 3 tackles on Saturday.
Pruitt said the prized recruit will shift back to receiver this August, but that his path to the field — this season, at least — might be on defense.
“At least he’s got a background now,” Pruitt said. “If we decided to move him over there in fall camp, or somebody got hurt, he would have an idea how to go over there, and we could get him ready to play in a couple weeks. So it’s good for him. It didn’t help him develop as a wide receiver, but that’s OK. We’ve got time for that.”
None of the Volunteers players were made available to the media after the spring game, though Pruitt sat down for a 15-minute press conference. He mentioned his first Vol Walk was “spectacular,” while also calling out certain players and fans.