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Tennessee Football: Freshman Cornerback Continues to Receive Big Praise from Coaching Staff

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He’s going to be in the mix this fall.

NCAA Football: Tennessee Practice Knoxville News Sentinel-USA TODAY NETWORK

Cornerback was yet another soft spot on Tennessee’s 2016 defense. Letdown after letdown, the Tennessee offense was forced to pick things up to stay in games. Justin Martin and Emmanuel Moseley are the two obvious names to start this year, but the coaching staff keeps touting a freshman.

It’s Shawn Shamburger. The freshman has drawn praise all camp long from Bob Shoop, Butch Jones and Charlton Warren. As we get closer to the opener, the hype is getting very real.

“A freshman that’s really starting to step up is Shawn Shamburger. He’s gaining valuable repetitions — he’s getting better and better.”

Butch also singled out Justin Martin as a guy that’s “had a really good camp.” Jones said that it was also good to have Emmanuel Moseley back.

He followed that with an interesting statement, saying “we need to find our third corner right now.” Jones then again mentioned Shamburger as a guy that has taken advantage of his repetitions.

Rashaan Gaulden has the nickel spot locked down, of course. Jones is talking about the third “outside” corner here.

The surprise here came with what Jones didn’t say — he didn’t mention Shaq Wiggins in that mix. Just about everyone assumed that Wiggins would be at least in the rotation, perhaps even a starter. That’s not to say he can’t crack the lineup, but it’s at least interesting that Jones gave a glowing review to Shamburger without mentioning Wiggins.

In reality, the rotation and starters at cornerback are likely going to be a moving target. I’d bet each of these guys (and others like Baylen Buchanan, Cheyenne Labruzza and Terrell Bailey) get a shot at some point in the season. But for now, it sounds like Shamburger is leading that reserve group and is going to play quite a bit this fall.