With a swift head fake, the Tennessee wideout briefly ducked inside before turning and bolting to the back corner of the end zone.
Ball in air, North — all 6-foot-4, 225 pounds of him — leaped, threw his hands toward the sky and trapped a pass between his catcher's mitt-sized paws.
But only for a moment.
Emmanuel Moseley — all 5-foot-10, 160 pounds of him — jarred the ball from the grasp of the former freshman All-American with a swift punch.
Moseley may be small, wiry and young, but Tennessee coach Butch Jones said Thursday the freshman cornerback has stood out this spring and is a serious contender to start next fall.
Moseley was overmatched physically Thursday during the one-on-one drill against North. He better get used to the feeling. And he better get used to winning when outgunned.
That is, if Jones' second defense at Tennessee wants to succeed next season.
"I feel a little more comfortable on offense," Jones said. "Defensively, a long ways to go."
Jones said Moseley makes up for his small stature with his "smarts," adding that Moseley has displayed eagerness to learn and improve this spring.
"He's like a sponge, takes everything that coach (Willie) Martinez tells him, tries to apply it to his game," Jones told IT. "We just need to get him bigger and stronger to compete at a high level come August and then into September and the football season."
With Justin Coleman — who started opposite Cameron Sutton at cornerback last fall — making the move to nickelback, the second corner job was a mystery heading into camp and Moseley was an unlikely candidate to nab it.
Moseley has certainly surprised this spring.
Other than the Vols, the North Carolina native pocked offers from Eastern Carolina, Charlotte and N.C. Sate. He clocked back-to-back sub-4.4 40-yard dashed while at camp in Knoxville, and has been putting that speed to use.
"I really like what he's brining to the table," Jones said. "Like I said, though, he just needs to keep getting more physical."
During the Vols' second scrimmage last weekend, Moseley was beat by wideout Jason Croom down the sideline. Croom caught the pass at roughly the 30-yard line and carried the youngster into the end zone on his back.
While the scrimmage is a glaring example of Moseley's need to get stronger, he isn't alone in the lacking physicality department.
"Our entire secondary has to pick it up," Jones said. "We're no where near where we need to be."
Jones said his biggest hope for his team's upcoming scrimmage this Saturday is that the defense — Moseley included — improves its physicality.
"We must become a much better tackling defensive football team, that's the reason we continue to make our quarterbacks live. Yeah, it's for the quarterbacks, to see who can create plays, but it's almost as much for our defense, to see who can create plays, tackle in space, keep our points on the quarterback when we pass rush," Jones said. "So we need to see a much, much more physical football team; a team that can grind it and work through and compete and make plays."
Change coming for Carr?
Jason Carr may be moving positions soon.
There's a strong possibility the 6-foot-5, 292-pound defensive tackle will be asked to make the transition to offensive tackle, Jones said Thursday.
Carr, a sophomore, appeared briefly in three games last season and has yet to see impactful reps at defensive line this spring.
Jones said the coaching staff has been considering moving Carr for "awhile."
Mixon Searching for mentality
Mixon, a former Scout three-star, was recently moved from defensive end to defensive tackle to aid depth in the interior.
Jones said Mixon has met the physical standards, but is still searching for consistency and finding a "tough mindset."
"It's a mentality. You have to bring it every day," Jones said. "…You don't just show up and practice. You have to prepare each and every day. Again, it's those habits we're trying to create with this football team."
Cemented at center
Redshirt junior Mack Crowder has a strong hold on the starting center position, but his backup is less clear.
Jones said Thursday sophomore Dylan Wiesman would be next in line should Crowder go down, but added that several players have been getting reps at the position.
Freshman Ray Raulerson has seen most of his snaps at center, but has struggled with "consistency" this spring.
Butch Jones, per university