7. Baylen Buchanan, CB
Though he wasn’t the highest-rated player in Tennessee’s 2016 class, Baylen Buchanan flashed a lot of potential as a true freshman. He played in all 13 of Tennessee’s games and even made a spot start against South Carolina. He filled in for an injured Cam Sutton early in the season and held his own against SEC competition. The future looked bright for Buchanan.
Then, inexplicably, he took several steps back as a sophomore. After appearing in all 13 games in 2016, Buchanan only appeared in six games last season and didn’t make a single start. Injuries played a role, but so did lack of production when he was actually on the field. He went from 20 tackles and a pass defended as a freshman to just four tackles total last season.
With Rashaan Gaulden, Emmanuel Moseley, and Justin Martin all gone from last year’s team, Buchanan will likely start at one of the Vols’ two main corner positions. He needs to step up and prove that the talent he showed as a freshman wasn’t a fluke.