Jalen Reeves-Maybin's return, coming off a pair of tremendous seasons of his own, was a big domino in Tennessee's 2016 championship plans because of the lack of experience at outside linebacker behind him. But of those with decisions to make (which apparently includes Marquez North), the most NFL-ready was Cam Sutton. By all accounts he had the highest projection of Tennessee's underclassmen, and unlike JRM, Alvin Kamara, or Marquez North, Sutton has been a three year starter at Tennessee.
But today, another big-time domino came up orange and white:
YaDiggWhatImSaying pic.twitter.com/uixTOxzIaA— Orange Swarm (@CamSutton23) January 14, 2016
Sutton's return gives incredible stability to Tennessee's secondary, which lost both starting safeties to graduation. Justin Martin and Emmanuel Moseley will now continue to battle at the other corner spot, with an improving Malik Foreman and a returning Rashaan Gaulden at nickel (Hey, it's depth! Remember depth?). That's unless new coordinator Bob Shoop wants to shake things up.
Pretty sure Sutton is going to stay locked in as the team's number one corner no matter what else Shoop decides to do. His pass defense stats weren't dynamic this year because teams just quit throwing at him: after three interceptions and 13 passes broken up in 2014, Sutton had just a single pick and six PBUs last fall. But he still caused a pair of fumbles and helped shape a Tennessee defense looking to evolve to a championship level.
Oh, and Sutton led the nation in punt return average.
The motto of this quite-young off-season is quickly becoming, "Good to Great." On the defensive side of the ball, every big move so far has gone Tennessee's way. The Vols will now return eight starters for Shoop's first unit with its two best seniors-to-be, plus nine on offense. Getting your biggest NFL prospect back for one last ride is a huge win for Butch Jones, Bob Shoop, and hopefully Cam Sutton, who I believe has the talent to play in the league. If the Vols win big this fall, Sutton could be rewarded by winning big next April.