When the Tennessee Vols signed four-star athlete Alontae Taylor this past December, most folks assumed he’d be a contributor on the offensive side of the ball.
Taylor, after all, was rated in 247Sports’ composite rankings as the No. 21 wide receiver in the nation.
During spring practice, however, Vols head coach Jeremy Pruitt quickly moved Taylor to the defensive side of the ball. At the time, it appeared that Pruitt was just moving players around for depth purposes. It’s a fairly common thing for head coaches to do. But that doesn’t mean it always works out. Former UT head coach Butch Jones moved players around quite a bit, and his moves seemed to fail more often than not.
As for Pruitt, he’s looking like a genius for moving Taylor to cornerback.
The Tennessee native was the talk of the day after the Volunteers’ open practice on Sunday.
Don’t expect to see Alontae Taylor back at WR anytime soon. The freshman CB balled out during today’s open practice. Here’s the video proof: an INT vs. Guarantano. pic.twitter.com/tvu3CJt6E7
— David Cobb (@DavidWCobb) August 5, 2018
#Vols freshman cornerback Alontae Taylor is a really good football player. He’ll be hard to keep off the field.
— Wes Rucker (@wesrucker247) August 5, 2018
Alontae Taylor picked off both QBs in today’s practice. If you’re looking for a true freshman who can make an immediate impact, he’s probably your guy. Physical, fearless, and obviously great ball skills. He was a WR in high school.
— David Ubben (@davidubben) August 5, 2018
I know it’s early during Pruitt’s tenure on Rocky Top, but this is absolutely a great sign for the future of Tennessee football.
Pruitt might end up making some bad moves, maybe he’ll flame out and get fired in three years. No one has any clue what will happen in the coming seasons. But for now, all signs point to great things for Pruitt and the Vols. He’s making all the right moves — on the football field. The praise for Pruitt, which has been abundant, has nothing to do with what he’s saying to the media (though I’ll admit he’s a breath of fresh air after listening to Butch Jones babble on about “resiliency” for nearly five years). Instead, it has everything to do with how he’s coaching — you know, the things a football coach should be praised for.
By the way, Pruitt recently made another position change that Vol fans should keep an eye on.
Sophomore Maleik Gray, who started his career as a defensive back, is now working at wide receiver. According to Pruitt, Gray never played defensive back in high school. He played linebacker and wide receiver, so the move makes plenty of sense (especially since Gray doesn’t have the size to play linebacker in the SEC).
It looks like the days of players being under-utilized and playing out of position at Tennessee are long gone.
Pruitt and his staff are going to do every thing in their power to find the best position for each player on their roster.
It seems like such a basic concept, but it’s something the previous staff couldn’t manage to do.
Fortunately, the Vols once again have a coaching staff full of “football guys”.
Featured image via News Tribune