A relatively small number of positions have ongoing battles for the Vols in camp this year. The secondary – outside of the presence of Cam Sutton as the top corner – is one of those spots where starting jobs and playing time is up for grabs.
Juniors Emmanuel Moseley and Justin Martin have battled at the second corner spot. And now there’s more competition at nickel, as Butch Jones confirmed that sophomore Rashaan Gaulden, who missed all of last season with a foot injury, is competing at that spot.
“First of all, it’s been great to have Rashaan back,” Jones said before practice on Monday evening. “Rashaan right now is competing at the nickel spot with Malik Foreman and we’ll continue to have some competition at that nickel spot as well. Rashaan is also playing safety for us, but it’s great to have him back.”
Gaulden worked at safety for much of the spring and was penciled in by many as the starter there opposite of Todd Kelly Jr. Now it appears that spot is very much up for grabs as well. Gaulden, according to Jones, will get reps there, Micah Abernathy has worked there, Evan Berry and Stephen Griffin are in the mix as well, but it appears to be true freshman Nigel Warrior – one of the top prizes in the 2016 signing class – who is turning some heads in camp at that spot.
“Nigel Warrior, along with all of our freshmen, are doing great things,” Jones said. “Nigel’s a young man who continues to get better and better each and every day. He has great football instincts. He’s added to the competitive component to the backend of our secondary, and we’re going to need him on special teams as well.
“Again, he fits into the category of the entire freshman class. They’re doing a great job. We thought Nigel was one of those individuals that really stood out on Saturday (at the scrimmage).”