All Tennessee defensive tackle Malik Jackson and cornerback Prentiss Waggner needed, apparently, was a change of scenery.
Neither had a full body of work at their respective new positions, but that didn’t matter to the panel of Associated Press voters on Monday, as Jackson and Waggner were named second-team All-SEC.
Junior running back Tauren Poole, who ranked fifth in the SEC with 994 rushing yards and 11 touchdowns, was one of seven players to receive honorable mention.
Both Jackson and Waggner moved to their respective positions because of depth issues that plagued the Vols throughout coach Derek Dooley’s first season. Preseason injuries and a disappointing year from Montori Hughes prompted Dooley to move the 265-pound Jackson from defensive end to the inside, while a similar slew of injuries and suspensions in the secondary forced Waggner to move from his starting spot at safety to cornerback.
Jackson had just one tackle for loss during the first half of the season, but finished with 11, as he racked up five sacks and 33 tackles in the final six games of the season. During that stretch, Jackson, a Southern Cal transfer, intercepted a pass at the line of scrimmage against Memphis and nearly ran it back for a touchdown.
Waggner played cornerback in high school, but moved to safety this season because of an opening on the depth chart. He was a “ball hawk” at both positions, intercepting his first career pass and returning it for a touchdown in the season opener against UT Martin and picking up four more to finish with five, a total that ranked third in the SEC and tied for 15th in the nation. His three interception returns for a touchdown set a UT program record and he also recovered two fumbles.
Waggner was recently named a second-team All-America player by Scout.com.
The coaches’ All-SEC team will be announced today and the all-freshman team, which promises to be chock full of Vols, will be released Thursday.
Andrew Gribble covers Tennessee football and recruiting. He may be reached at 865-342-6327. Follow him at http://twitter.com/Andrew_Gribble and http://blogs.knoxnews.com/gribble/