2. Baylen Buchanan, CB
As a true freshman in 2015, Baylen Buchanan stepped up in a big way. After Cam Sutton went down with injury against Ohio, Buchanan stepped in and performed well against the Bobcats. Then when injuries hit more of Tennessee’s secondary, Buchanan once again was forced into extensive action against Alabama and held his own. He made his first career start against South Carolina two weeks later and looked promising there as well.
But last season saw Buchanan take a step back rather than have a breakout sophomore year for whatever reason. And a true freshman corner, Shawn Shamburger, had a breakout season himself in 2017.
This spring, Buchanan looked improved by the time spring practices ended, and he seemed to regain some of the confidence and promise he had as a true freshman. And with no likely early impact cornerbacks in the Vols’ 2018 recruiting class coming in and no grad transfer corners electing to join the Vols this offseason, Buchanan could be one of the Vols’ starters at cornerback in 2018 if he continues to improve and regain that potential he had in 2016.
I pegged Buchanan as one of the most underrated players in the Vols’ 2016 class shortly after Tennessee wrapped up that signing class. And he looked to be proving me right as a true freshman, but last year was a disappointment for the talented corner. This year could be the year he gets back on track.