Marsalis Teague on his recent role change with the Vols
Marsalis Teague is playing the same game.
Now he's just on the other side of the board.
The former receiver became the newest pawn for UT's revamped defensive secondary earlier this week, and after just one day working out at a new position, Teague has already embraced a different perspective.
"Really (having played quarterback) and playing receiver, I'm thinking it's just like a chess match," the sophomore said. "I'm thinking it's the opposite of what I used to think.
"I used to see this (cornerback) lined up like that. Now I'm thinking OK, 'I see this receiver lining up like that,' and I kind of get a feel for what he's about to do. I'm jumping on it."
The Vols are certainly hoping the leap from Teague makes a splash in the secondary after they dismissed Darren Myles over the summer, lost transfer Dave Clark to an eligibility issue this week and are still sorting through another with freshman Eddrick Loften. A unit that once appeared to be a strength for UT has suddenly turned into one plagued by uncertainty heading into camp, with Teague and freshman Ted Meline both becoming possible bandages by choosing interceptions over receptions.
Teague has long been considered a candidate for a position change, but until as recently as the weekend the Vols had fought a move for the promising target. At least in the early going though, neither the coaching staff nor Teague seem to have any regrets about the decision.
"It was really kind of easy once I sat down and thought about it," Teague said. "You know, C++oach Dooley is a great coach and I put all my trust in him that he would only make the move for the better of myself and the better of the team. I feel like if he's doing it for me to be able to help the team.
"The main thing he told me was, 'The move wasn't because you weren't doing well at receiver.' I don't really know anything about that (defensive back) situation, but he told me the numbers were a little down, we've got injuries back there and of course Darren (Myles) had to go. So I mean, he just told me it was a great opportunity to help the team so I jumped on it."
The transition might not be seamless, but Teague has a few things working for him given his high school experience at safety and a bright football mind.
It should also help that UT won't have to thrust him into the starting lineup right away, since it UT still has Janzen Jackson and Prentiss Waggner at safety and Art Evans and Eric Gordon at cornerback to lean on. The depth at both positions clearly isn't where Dooley would like it to be though, so if the switch does go smoothly there will be plenty of chances to break into the rotation.
"We're a little deeper at wideout than we are at defensive back, and nowadays you're in Nickel over half the time," Dooley said. "So, I view five as starting in the secondary. Two or three is kind of starting on offense, so you just do the math and the first thing you do when you're thin somewhere is go, 'Who's got the physical skills?'
"Marsalis played quarterback in high school, and those are the perfect defensive backs. Not all of them, but most guys who played quarterback in high school because they're the best guy on the team, they have the physical skills to go over there and play defense. But they're so used to wanting the ball and having the ball in their hand, it's hard to make that jump."
Teague obviously isn't opposed to trying though, helping Dooley move around some chess pieces in the process.