New Faces, Transfers Bolstering Tennessee Secondary This Spring

  • Wednesday, April 3, 2024

Tennessee football is replacing three primary starters in its secondary this spring, but there is no shortage of talented playmakers seeking to fill the void led by a trio of transfers and two returning juniors at safety.

Secondary coach Willie Martinez spoke to reporters following the Volunteers' seventh practice, a 24-period full-padded workout on Monday, to kick off the third week of the spring.

"We have an athletic group," Martinez said. "The team is really fast, they're young, they're inexperienced, but they have a great attitude of the effort part, the preparation.

We just have to continue to grow and mature as an inexperienced group, mixed with a couple of veterans with a guy like (Andre) Turrentine and Jourdan Thomas, to mention a few. Obviously, we have Will Brooks and there are a couple of other guys."

Turrentine, an Ohio State transfer, returns at safety and stepped up big in the Citrus Bowl victory over Iowa. He thwarted a first-quarter Hawkeye drive with his first career interception, making a diving grab in the end zone.

Rickey Gibson III made his first career start in the Iowa contest as a true freshman and leads a talented cornerback group that must replace the departure of Kamal Hadden to the professional ranks.

Tennessee brought in three significant transfers, including Jermod McCoy (Oregon State) and Jalen McMurray (Temple) at cornerback and Jakobe Thomas (Middle Tennessee) at safety. Martinez said that college experience has been beneficial to them immediately learning the system and being thrust into action.

"You look at those three players, and it's across the board, across America," Martinez said. "Not only did they get developed, but they also were producing too on their team. They had great experience. Obviously, there are different conferences, and they're all coming from different ones. It's the development part, and it's no different than one of our guys who was a third-year player who has the talent and skillset and maybe did not have the right training in the beginning prior to coming here. But then, they bought in to the culture, and they're better players."

The Vols will practice in shoulder pads on Wednesday before going under the lights for a closed scrimmage in Neyland Stadium on Thursday night.

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