Marquill Osborne serves as Tennessee's class of 2016 ambassador.
As the only early enrollee of the 20 recent signees still on the team, Osborne has become the liaison between the Vols' coaching staff and their new players who've yet to arrive on campus. What is defensive line coach Steve Stripling like on the practice field? What does the film room look like? What players have you gotten to know the best? Every question thrown his way over text message or on the phone, the Scout three-star defensive back now has the experience to answer.
"We're all in a group message still," Osborne told InsideTennessee. "I'm the only guy that enrolled early, so I'm giving them all the input and what they want to know. They ask me questions about the coaches, what the rooms are like, stuff like that. I'm letting them know all that stuff."
Through twelve spring practices, Osborne has been baptized by fire as he gets acclimated to the responsibility of being a Division I athlete when he should still be in high school. The whirlwind pace that clashes classes and football practices is still something the Cornelius, North Carolina, native is getting acclimated with as he makes the jump to SEC football.
"It's very difficult for a young man that should be in high school right now," coach Butch Jones said. "He's come in and it's really helped him. You can see him grow and mature a little bit. You can also see him fighting the mental fatigue, not just of classes, but I think it's a compilation of everything. He's an individual with great character, works exceptionally hard, and he's got a chance to be a very, very good football player."
Osborne likened the speed of one Tennessee practice to three high school sessions. It's something he's still getting used as the spring game looms just one week away. He's also learning a new position, switching from corner to nickelback with a physical and versatile skill set that requires more knowledge and blitzing.
"It's new," Osborne said. "You've got to be more of a leader. Corner, I think, is a lot more easier. At the nickel spot you've got to know so much more. You're blitzing, too. I just started blitzing this year."
Osborne's role will primarily be on special teams this season, where he's working toward earning a spot on the kickoff return team while he learns the nickelback position and adjusts to his new life — one his friends in the class of 2016 group message will learn firsthand very soon.
"He works every day. We put him in some trying and tough situations and he continues to answer the call," Jones said. "(Nickel) fits his skill set because he's physical. He's a high school senior who has very good strength. He's very, very active and he's very, very smart, athletic and explosive. That's the great thing is he can player corner, he can play the nickel spot and he's going to be a great contributor on special teams."