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Questions abound as Vols defense readies for first season under Jeremy Pruitt

Jeremy Pruitt

There are a lot of familiar names in the Tennessee secondary, mainly at safety. Nigel Warrior had 83 tackles a year ago. Now entering his junior season, the Vols legacy (his father is former all-SEC defensive back Dale Carter) appears poised for a big year. Todd Kelly Junior, another Vols legacy (Todd Kelly Sr.) is back for his fifth and final year after missing most of 2017 due to injury. His leadership attributes will be called on once again. In addition, senior Micah Abernathy should once again get a ton of playing time, after starting each game at safety a year ago.

At cornerback, the situation is not as clear. There simply isn’t a lot of experience at that position. Baylen Buchanan had some solid moments as a freshman, but missed half the 2017 season with an ankle injury. Shawn Shamburger earned himself a serious look after a 12 tackle performance against Alabama last season and brings a physical aspect to that position.

The situation is dire enough that Pruitt moved running back Carlin Fils-Amie to cornerback. In addition, true freshman Alontae Taylor saw time at corner during the spring, even though he is projected to play wide receiver.

Tennessee will be in a transition year on defense as everyone gets used to a new normal. We’ll find out how seamless the moves will be starting on September 1st when the Vols face West Virginia in Charlotte.

RELATED: Previewing the Tennessee offense in 2018.

(You can follow Mark Nagi on Twitter @MarkNagi)

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