Vols Newcomer Switches Positions at Practice

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    Photo by Nathanael Rutherford/RTI

    The spring is a time to tinker with position changes for certain players. Sometimes, a player may not be performing well at one position, and he may look at home at another once he’s moved. Coaches use the spring to figure those things out. Last spring, Jeremy Pruitt moved around several players during practices, and some of those moves stuck. The most notable of those moves was Alontae Taylor switching from wide receiver to defensive back.

    Now, another wideout has made the move to the defensive backfield. But this switch could only be temporary.

    Georgia transfer Deangelo Gibbs played defensive back for his two years with the Bulldogs. But once he arrived on campus at UT, he’s been practicing at wide receiver. On Tuesday, however, the rising junior was spotted over with the defensive backs practicing with the safeties.

    According to Pruitt, that was always the plan.

    “That was kind of the plan when he came here. Let him practice nine days at wide receiver,” Pruitt said to the media after Tuesday’s practice. “He’s done a really good job.”

    Pruitt said that Gibbs was recruited as an athlete out of high school, and he and UT’s coaches wanted to give him time to play on both sides of the ball during the spring to see where he fit best. Gibbs exclusively played on defense and special teams for Georgia, but he was a receiver and defensive back for Grayson High School and Peachtree Ridge before coming to college.

    As a Bulldog, Gibbs played in 13 total games across two seasons, totaling 10 tackles. He missed a number of games due to undisclosed reasons in the 2018 season, and he ultimately put his name in the NCAA transfer portal and wound up transferring to Tennessee this offseason.

    In high school, Gibbs was an All-State performer as both a junior and senior. On defense, he was a standout defensive back who helped lead Grayson to a 14-1 record his senior season in 2016. As a receiver, Gibbs hauled in 39 receptions for 696 yards and eight touchdowns over his four years of high school.

    The 6-foot-1, 209-pound athlete has looked solid at receiver this spring, looking like a natural at the position despite not playing there for over two years. Right now, Tennessee isn’t even sure if Gibbs will be eligible for the upcoming season, though. Tennessee has filed for a waiver with the NCAA to make both Gibbs and Michigan transfer Aubrey Solomon eligible immediately for the 2019 season, but the NCAA has not gotten back to UT about those waivers yet. So Gibbs and Solomon’s status at Tennessee for this season remains up in the air.

    Time will tell what position Gibbs sticks with for the Vols, but right now Jeremy Pruitt and his staff are content with trying to figure that out as the spring wears on.



    Nathanael Rutherford is the managing editor and social media manager for Rocky Top Insider. Nathanael graduated from the University of Tennessee and cultivated a passion for the Vols while growing up in Knoxville a mere 10 minutes from Neyland Stadium. He's been a part of the RTI team since November of 2015 and has been the editor of RTI since June of 2017. If he's not talking or writing about Tennessee athletics, he's probably talking about Star Wars.