Not a competition?
KNOXVILLE, Tenn. – Tennessee defensive coordinator Bob Shoop said he doesn’t see the cornerback position as a competition as much as a platoon situation.
This seems to run counter to the theme heading into camp. The coaching staff said the early fall practices would see competition across the board.
The defense suffered a number of injuries last season and with a healthy group of seniors, anyone could see the field.
“I don’t even want to call it a competition,” Shoop said after Sunday’s practice. “I think it’s nice to have, as we’ve all learned, depth is so critical.”
The cornerback corps will be led by the trio of seniors Justin Martin, Emmanuel Mosely and Shaq Wiggins.
“Justin [Martin] is our most improved guy in the spring, Shaq [Wiggins] brings a veteran presence and Emmanuel [Moseley] is as much of a leader as we have in the group right there,” Shoop said.
Martin finished the 2016 season with 19 tackles and one pass deflection in 11 games.
Mosley had 57 tackles in 2016 with 6 pass deflections.
Wiggins provides a little something different to the group. The 5-foot-10, 169-pound corner comes to the Vols as a graduate transfer from Louisville.
Wiggins battled injuries last season and played in to play in only 8 games and had 8 tackles and 3 pass breakups.
“I haven’t thrown [Wiggins] in there and anointed him the next Darrelle Revis or anything like that,” Shoop said. “But we’ve put him in a position where he’s learning how we operate and how Charlton [Warren] wants things. He’s a talented player. He has just got to continue to do the things that are synonymous with Tennessee football and our culture.”
The seniors will lead the way this fall. The freshmen could see important playing time, though, if the Vols face similar injury situations as 2016.
Shoop said the freshmen corners Cheyenne Labruzza, Shawn Shamburger and Terrell Bailey have played well in the first two practices.
“As for the three freshman corners, they show the skill set and the drive and the want to be really good. I’m very, very pleased with all of those guys,” Shoop said.