Safety woes continue

Tennessee can't win for losing at safety. <P> First, the Vols lose 2003 starters Gibril Wilson and Rashad Baker to graduation. Then Corey Campbell has a disappointing season in 2004. Then the team's one proven safety, rising senior Jason Allen, agrees to come back for 2005 ... but as a CORNERBACK.

Then, just as converted corner Roshaun Fellows is about to put a lock on one of safety jobs this spring, he suffers what appears to be a slight tear in his knee. With Fellows apparently sidelined for the rest of the spring, his spot falls to another converted corner, Antwan Stewart, who is coming off a knee injury of his own that caused him to miss all of 2004.

Are the Vols snakebit at this position or what?

The loss of Fellows is a big blow. I raved about the guy all last spring and put him on the cover of our May, 2004 issue. While watching scrimmages, I noticed him making more plays than more celebrated corners like Jonathan Wade and Jonathan Hefney combined. I was pleased, but not terribly surprised, when Fellows won a starting job last fall.

Although Fellows distinguished himself at corner last season, using him to fill one of the voids at safety this spring made perfect sense. At 6-0 and 185 pounds, he's bigger than the other corners (except Allen). And he's a pretty good tackler, which is vital at safety.

Now Fellows is hurt, however, and the Vols find themselves once again desperately searching for answers at safety.

Frankly, I think Stewart will be fine. He was so impressive two years ago that he came out of spring practice No. 1 at cornerback, only to lose the job to Jason Allen in preseason. If Stewart's surgically repaired knee holds up, he'll provide quality play at one of the safety spots.

What about the other spot? Hopefully, Fellows' injury is minor enough that he'll be fully healed by the time preseason drills begin in August. If not, these appear to be the options:

1. Hope converted corner Jonathan Hefney is big enough to do the job
2. Hope another corner (Inky Johnson?) can move over and fill the void
3. Hope Corey Campbell bounces back from a mediocre sophomore season
4. Hope incoming signees Demetrice Morley and Adam Myers-White are fast learners

Inside Tennessee Top Stories