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Tennessee’s most important players of 2019: No. 3 — Alontae Taylor

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Taylor’s ascension over the past year has been remarkable.

UTEP v Tennessee
Tennessee’s second-year corner is arguably the most important player on defense.
Photo by Donald Page/Getty Images

It’s safe to say that Jeremy Pruitt raised a few eyebrows last year when he decided to move Alontae Taylor - who was a receiver coming out of high school - to cornerback.

Pruitt proved himself correct in thinking that Taylor could handle the starting job. He had a quick start to the year and even though he struggled toward the end, he proved himself to be one of the most important players on defense.

He may even be one of the most important players on the team.

At 6-foot, 193-pounds, Taylor possess an ideal of size, strength, and speed that is coveted at his position. He can play press, zone, or different match coverages. Another year in Pruitt’s defense should only improve his game.

His ability to play in multiple schemes also allows the defense to remain flexible, which in return can make life hell for opposing offenses. Your bigger, more athletic receivers won’t be able to have success against Taylor like they would your average college corner.

Tennessee’s depth behind Taylor is not very good, either. His presence is even more crucial now that Baylen Buchanan’s future is murkier than ever. There is still time to figure things out, but Taylor’s versatility - combined with the emergence of Warren Burrell - may make him the best candidate to take over Buchanan’s STAR position, which is a crucial spot in Pruitt’s defense.

That’s a luxury that most team’s don’t have, but most teams also don’t have a player like Taylor.

According to GoVols247, Pruitt, among others close to the program, “insist that he’s (Taylor) now 100 percent bought into the idea of being a cornerback and excelling on that side of the field”. A healthy, focused, and prepared Taylor can mean nothing but good news for the Vols.

It’s easy to see why Taylor is such an important player for this team and his play in 2019 will reflect that, as well.