Cameron Sutton’s legacy at Tennessee will be tough to replace.
Gone soon enough will be a cornerback that’s started from Day 1 and owns a mile-long list of career honors.
As the senior and team captain heads into his fourth and final season with the Volunteers, Team 120’s less-experienced backs compete to hold down the “island” on the other side of the field. Among those in contention are Baylen Buchanan, D.J. Henderson, Justin Martin, Emmanuel Moseley and Marquille Osborne.
“It’s a healthy competition,” Sutton said. “We don’t care about who’s starting or who’s taking the first reps and those things because those things can change each and every day. It’s all about being consistent in your approach each and every day. Come in ready to work. Have that workman’s mentality through whatever it is — practice, meetings, workouts.”
According to coaches and teammates alike, expectations are for either Martin or Moseley to pin down the job. When not facing Sutton in practices on Haslam Field, Tennessee junior wide receiver Josh Malone said he’s challenged by those two most often.
“Since they’re lengthy and tall corners, I can get good work with them off the line,” Malone told InsideTennessee. “We’re always pushing each other back and forth and talking back and forth to improve and help each other out.”
Moseley’s consistency seems to be giving him an edge, according to first-year defensive coordinator Bob Shoop.
“(Moseley)’s in position, he doesn’t make a lot of mistakes,” Shoop said. “I think everybody recognizes he’s got good length. He’s a tough guy, he’s got good, valuable experience and had an interception at the (Outback) Bowl game last year. He’s just got to continue to make plays.”
Over the course of training camp, Mosley led the secondary in “swarm points” for his productivity.
“The last two practice before school started I think I saw (Moseley) take his game to the next level,” Shoop said. “He started to be more physical, challenge routes and be more productive, so I thought he had a really good camp.”
While Martin has also shown overall improvement in the offseason, there is still room to grow and that starts with stressing the fundamentals.
“(Martin) has had some really good practices recently too,” Shoop said. “He’s obviously got great length, great speed. With him it’s just attention to detail and focus. I talk to him all the time about not just being reliant on his length.”
According to Shoop, Martin is a rather coachable player— a quality that could allow him to overcome those stifles.
“He said to me after Practice 1 or 2, ‘I can understand why you were mad at me those first couple practices,’ but he’s done a good job.”
“If he could be a little more consistent (in his footwork) that would be in his best interest right there.”