Alontae Taylor was originally recruited to Tennessee to play wide receiver. But during spring practices earlier this year, UT head coach Jeremy Pruitt elected to move Taylor from offense over to defense and try his hand at cornerback. Taylor almost exclusively played offense in high school, but he took to his new position quickly and stayed there once fall camp began.
Fast forward to the halfway point of the 2018 season, and Taylor has been one of the best cornerbacks in the country at limiting big plays just six games into his Tennessee career.
According to the college division of Pro Football Focus, Taylor has been one of best corners among Power Five players this year at keeping receivers from picking up big yards. PFF released a graphic showing Power Five cornerbacks who have allowed the fewest yards per coverage snap to their match-ups this season, and Taylor comes in sixth behind studs like Michigan’s David Long, Mississippi State’s Maurice Smitherman, and TCU’s Innis Gaines.
No cornerbacks have limited receivers in coverage from the Power-5 quite like these guys – led by Michigan CB David Long pic.twitter.com/EJRRvKnHS7
— PFF College (@PFF_College) October 15, 2018
Opposing quarterbacks haven’t targeted Taylor’s assignment much to start this year, and that’s because the true freshman has usually been in great coverage in the first six weeks of the season. He’s allowing less than half a yard per snap on passing plays this season.
Not bad for a true freshman and a player who was on the offensive side of the ball in high school this time last year.
Taylor has started four games and played in all six of Tennessee’s games this season. He totaled a career-high seven tackles against Auburn this past weekend, and he recovered a fumble for a touchdown as well.
So far in his first season with the Vols, Taylor has 21 tackles, a tackle for loss, a forced fumble, a fumble recovery for a touchdown, a pass break-up, and a blocked kick.