One of the main storylines that we were interested in following this spring was the transition of Tyler Byrd and Carlin Fils-Aime to the defensive side of the ball. With four contributors leaving at cornerback, Tennessee had an obvious void to fill there. Tennessee head coach Jeremy Pruitt announced that Byrd and Fils-Aime would be starting there to open spring ball.
Today, he gave us an update on their progress after seeing three practices.
“Tyler and Carlin are learning what’s going on,” Pruitt told the media. “Neither one of them played a whole lot of defense in high school. This position is completely new — which is okay. Just being around them, they’re both good competitors, but there’s things about playing defensive back — it’s kind of a learned behavior. They’ve got to learn the movements and skillsets. I think both of them have the skillset to contribute back there.”
After seeing just two practices, Pruitt and the coaching staff have already tweaked the plan for Byrd, who worked with the safeties today. Pruitt gave a detailed explanation on why he made that move.
“Lots of times when you take offensive players and move them to the defensive side, he’s used to looking at the quarterback,” Pruitt said. “Well if you’re a big man to man team like we are, you can’t guard your man and look at the quarterback. Tyler has really good ball skills and has a toughness about him. We felt like after two days that it might be his best position to actually play safety because you play with a lot of vision on the quarterback. He’s going to be able to use his natural ball catching ability.”
Pruitt initially said that Byrd and Fils-Aime would be working at their new positions for the first seven days of the spring. After three practices, it sounds like both are set to get more chances at it next week.