Jeremy Pruitt made some headlines before spring practice, announcing that Tyler Byrd and Carlin Fils-Aime would be working with the defensive backs to start the year. Pruitt noted that this was far from final as he and his staff tried to maximize the Tennessee roster.
Entering the third week of practice, we got some more positional changes. According to multiple reports from practice, Tennessee moved at least six players to different positions today.
Alontae Taylor: WR to DB
Princeton Fant: RB to LB
Matthew Butller: DL to OL
Greg Emerson: DL to OL
LaTrell Bumphus: DE to TE
Tyler Byrd: DB to WR
Obviously, the most notable move here is Byrd going back to receiver. Pruitt noted that he had been working with the safeties, but he was back with the pass catchers today.
The two most interesting ones to me were Greg Emerson and Matthew Butler. Emerson was a top three signee for Tennessee in 2018, so it’s pretty interesting that the staff would even entertain moving him to the offensive side. Pruitt noted after practice that they lacked depth on the offensive line.
Alontae Taylor is the other big notable on this list. Buzz out of camp is that Taylor, a true freshman, has been making plenty of plays at receiver. Could this be a sign of the struggles of the cornerbacks? It certainly is still a position of need for the Vols.
I think experimental is the right word to use here.
“These moves aren’t final,” Pruitt said after practice — naming Alontae Taylor specifically. “If you’re going to do this stuff, now is the time to do it and see.”
With a roster that lacks depth and is very much unsettled, why not figure out what you’ve got? “We’re going to find out who the best players are at every position,” Pruitt said. It sounds like they’ll leave no stone unturned to do just that.