Teague passes first test

One player spent his first workday as a Tennessee cornerback Wednesday. Based on his performance, this could be a full-time job rather than a temporary position.

Marsalis Teague, a 5-10, 178-pound sophomore from Paris, Tenn., caught 13 passes as a freshman receiver last fall but moved to cornerback this preseason because of the Vols' dwindling depth in the secondary. He looked right at home in Wednesday's initial preseason workout, and with good reason.

"In high school I actually played (defensive back) my entire freshman year, sophomore year and half of my junior year," he said. "I played primarily quarterback as a senior but in the playoffs I did play some safety."

Teague looked as smooth as any of the Vol cornerbacks in the early Wednesday drills that reporters were permitted to watch. He said he felt fairly comfortable.

"For the most part, it felt kind of natural still," he said. "I consider myself an athlete, so it wasn't too big of an adjustment. Really, the only adjustment for me is learning the defense and getting the terminology down."

Teague has seen the passing game from all sides, having played quarterback as a high school senior and wideout as a college freshman. That background should help him now that he's defending passes again.

"It's like a chess match," he said, "and I'm thinking the opposite of what I used to. When I see a receiver line up I kind of get a feel for what he's about to do, so I'm jumping on it."

Head Coach Derek Dooley approached Teague about the move to cornerback on Monday, just two days before the first preseason practice.

"The main thing he told me was that the move wasn't because I wasn't doing good at receiver but because of some freshman DBs not being eligible," Teague explained. "He told me the numbers were a little down with injuries back there and it was a great opportunity for me to help the team, so I jumped on it."

Although Tennessee's need for help in the secondary is urgent, Teague says he wasn't pressured to make the move by Dooley.

"He never really forced it upon me," the player said. "He just threw the idea out there at me and told me to think about it, then come back and let him know the next day. The more I thought about it, the more I felt like I'd put my trust in my coach; he's going to do what's best for me and the team."

Some players are reluctant to move from a high-profile position such as wide receiver to a lower-profile role such as cornerback. Although he admits he was "a little stunned" when the move was initially mentioned, Teague now seems to be embracing his new outpost.

"I consider myself a ball hawk on defense," he said. "I know I haven't really done anything now but in my head I still have the mindset I had in high school playing DB. You've got to be cocky out there on that island by yourself and you've got to go for the ball."


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