Juniors: Marquill Osborne, Baylen Buchanan, Tyler Byrd, Carlin Fils-aime
Sophomores: Shawn Shamburger, Terrell Bailey, Cheyenne Labruzza
Tennessee is glaringly thin at corner. Unfortunately, they weren’t able to add much in the last recruiting class either. Don’t let a lack of depth, however, be misconstrued as a lack of talent. While there aren’t many guys at the position, the players that are there are talented. And the additions of a couple players who are switching over for at least the first week of spring is a big plus.
Marquill Osborne in as an upperclassman looking for a fresh start with the new coaching staff. He was a highly regarded prospect coming out of high school, but he hasn’t played nearly as much as people expected during his first two years in Knoxville. He still has plenty of talent and should really benefit from the coaching change.
Baylen Buchanan showed a lot of promise as a freshman, appearing in 10 games and starting one. There was breakout potential for him as a sophomore, but he was never able to gain any traction, s he battled injuries all season and rarely saw the field. He is back healthy for his junior season, and he is an intriguing player. He needs to have a good spring, but he may just be one of the better corners on the roster.
The player that stands out most to me is sophomore Shawn Shamburger. The high school teammate of four-star linebacker and Vol signee JJ Peterson is ready to have a breakout year.
As a freshman, Shamburger began to earn more playing time as the season progressed. He started Tennessee’s game against Alabama, and he tallied 12 tackles and a sack. He is a physical and athletic player, and I believe he is the ideal corner for Pruitt’s defense. Shamburger is a smart player, and with a good spring, he can begin to reveal himself as the best corner on the roster.
Rounding out the position are a pair of sophomores in Cheyenne Labruzza and Terrell Bailey. Both of them had a minimal impact as freshman, but have an opportunity to make an impact as sophomores.
Labruzza generated some buzz when he arrived on campus a year ago, but wasn’t as game ready as expected. Bailey is a largely unknown player, but he can provide some much needed depth this season.
The additions of Byrd and Fils-aime to the secondary are big for a unit that was very scarce on players heading into the spring. Byrd especially could be big because he was considered an elite cornerback in high school. He was rated as the No. 10 corner in the 2016 class according to the 247Sports Composite rankings, and he’ll get a chance to show what he can do at the position this spring. Fils-aime doesn’t have any experience at the position that we know of, so it will be interesting to see what he can do. But at 5-11, 183 pounds, he certainly has the size to compete there.
Projected Initial Depth Chart:
This is one of the biggest unknowns on the roster, as both starting corner jobs are up for grabs. Shamburger is going to take over CB1 in the spring in my opinion. CB2 will likely come down to Byrd, Osborne, and Buchanan, and I think Buchanan has the upper hand unless Byrd proves himself and lives up to the hype.
Check out our previous position preview piece on the Vols’ safeties