Everyone is expecting the Tennessee Volunteers to play well this season and a lot of it is because of the recruiting classes Butch Jones has been able to put together the past few years. The Vols now have offensive linemen they can shuffle in and out, but that’s not where they have the most depth.
UT’s defensive backs coach Willie Martinez has been in the SEC for 13 years and he knows a good secondary when he sees one. Tennessee’s secondary this season falls under that category and a lot of it is the three returning seniors — LaDarrell McNeil, Brian Randolph, and Max Arnold — as well as extraordinary junior Cam Sutton. Malik Foreman is back for his junior season along with sophomores Todd Kelly Jr., Justin Martin and Emmanuel Mosley.
If that wasn’t enough they’ve got even more freshmen waiting in the wings to take over some spots. Martinez has praised his secondary and is impressed with their progress so far this offseason.
“All those young guys who were here last year are a year older and feeling a lot more comfortable. We’re still a work in progress back there, but last year we weren’t able to substitute the way we needed to because of lack of depth. I don’t know that I’d say we had guys who were gassed in the fourth quarter, but they were probably a little tired. Now we’ll have more guys playing, and not just on defense, but on special teams. You can already see the difference. We’ve already had some really good practices.”
So don’t be surprised if we see less pass catches on defense this year and maybe a few more interceptions!