First-team reps energize Byron Moore

Junior finally settles in at safety

Tennessee defensive backs Byron Moore, left, and Art Evans, right, collide during a drill prior to a scrimmage at Neyland Stadium Tuesday, Aug. 9, 2011.  The Vols will play the Montana Grizzlies Sept. 3 in Knoxville for their season opener.  (ADAM BRIMER/NEWS SENTINEL)

Photo by Adam Brimer, Adam Brimer

Tennessee defensive backs Byron Moore, left, and Art Evans, right, collide during a drill prior to a scrimmage at Neyland Stadium Tuesday, Aug. 9, 2011. The Vols will play the Montana Grizzlies Sept. 3 in Knoxville for their season opener. (ADAM BRIMER/NEWS SENTINEL)

The moving process started nearly a year ago, but Byron Moore might just now be getting a chance to settle in at Tennessee.

The enormous expectations that were supposed to arrive with him last fall? There was a slight problem with the delivery.

The neighborhood in the secondary? It wasn't quite right either.

But with a season with the Vols under his belt, another round of offseason conditioning to get in the kind of shape he needs to be to contribute and new digs at safety, Moore might finally be home as spring football practice rolls along this morning at Haslam Field.

"It was tough just not starting right away, meeting my expectations," Moore, a junior, said. "I always set high expectations for myself and push myself to be the best, so that was difficult. But I just kept coming out to practice and working hard each day, perfecting my craft and getting better at my game. Just kept my head straight and kept chopping at the wood until I can get the playing time that I'm comfortable with.

"Now I feel I'm pretty much settled in at free safety."

Moore technically still can't focus exclusively on that role with the Vols currently designating their safeties as left and right during camp and having them learn both spots.

But simply having the chance to establish a more clearly defined role after struggling to compete for a job at cornerback and showing up 15 pounds overweight last summer appears to have energized Moore. And the first-team reps he's earned early in the spring have offered signs he could be ready to live up to the hype that accompanied his signing out of junior college.

"It takes awhile to find a home until he finds a comfortable place of how to work, get his body right, his speed," UT coach Derek Dooley said. "It took us a while to figure it out, too. But you know what, guys? it's hard your first year. I don't care how old you are. Your first year in

any program is hard. So, I'm glad he has three.

"He's now learning and he's picking up this stuff pretty good. He's an instinctive player and I'm hoping he continues that. We need him. We need him."

The need for help in the secondary isn't really anything new for the Vols, which is why they signed a handful of defensive backs which included Moore a year ago and added four more in the class they landed in February.

The number of bodies figures to promote some heated competition for playing time, which is obviously by design. And that battle will likely carry over into the fall when highly-touted safety LaDarrell McNeil completes his own move to campus to jump in the mix with returners like Brian Randolph and Brent Brewer, who is splitting time there and at linebacker.

And there's also another four-star recruit about a year removed from his own arrival who seems much more prepared for a challenge now.

"When I first got here, I was feeling it more at corner," Moore said. "Now, after going through all the adjustments and everything, I feel more comfortable back there at safety.

"I'm just trying to learn the new defense, pick up the concepts. Everybody in the secondary is just working hard, trying to work together and make sure that we all know what we've got on each different concept and how to play it, match different routes and stuff. I feel like I'm having a pretty good camp, but we just have to keep grinding, working hard and pushing toward our first game."

The Vols still have plenty of time before they will need to worry about playing one. But Moore shouldn't need to spend any of it looking for a home this time.

Austin Ward covers Tennessee football. Follow him at http://twitter.com/Vols_Beat and http://blogs.knoxnews.com/ward.

Get Copyright Permissions © 2012, Knoxville News Sentinel Co.
Want to use this article? Click here for options!

© 2012 govolsxtra.com. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

  • Discuss
  • Print

Related Topics

Comments » 22

BIVOLAR_BEARE writes:

Go Byron, you keep working hard and big rewards are just around the corner for you and the whole team..GBO!!

AlexAndersonAAradio writes:

One of many examples how we aren't scouting prospects properly or not developing them. This guy was suppose to be great and barely saw the field of the worst secondary I've ever seen at UT.

BigOrange_supporter writes:

28th ranked defense in nation last year, not bad for worst secondary you have ever seen.

Ironcity writes:

in response to AlexAndersonAAradio:

One of many examples how we aren't scouting prospects properly or not developing them. This guy was suppose to be great and barely saw the field of the worst secondary I've ever seen at UT.

Its up to the player to come in ready. NOT THE COACHES.

AllVol1 writes:

JUCO's are especially hyped because they have already played above high school level. In actuality, it is rare to have a Cam Newton type of break out first year from a JUCO transfer. For every Cam, there are twenty-five Byron Moore's, who for various reasons, need to adjust to the level of play and all else. I look forward to seeing what he can do this year for the Vols in the SEC.

AlexAndersonAAradio writes:

in response to Ironcity:

Its up to the player to come in ready. NOT THE COACHES.

Please... If were that simple you wouldn't need coaches.

papavol writes:

we are definitely going to NEED you this year Byron. Show the SEC what you're made of.

Munsterlander writes:

in response to AlexAndersonAAradio:

One of many examples how we aren't scouting prospects properly or not developing them. This guy was suppose to be great and barely saw the field of the worst secondary I've ever seen at UT.

Yawn. Another wannabe blowhard. Of course you know how they should be scouted and developed. Of course you do. And of course it's the worst secondary you've ever seen. You should give CDD a call, I'm sure you could straighten him out.

lavette12389 writes:

in response to AlexAndersonAAradio:

Please... If were that simple you wouldn't need coaches.

he's referring to the fact its up to the JUCOs to come in in shape. its up to the players to condition themselves. coaches only tell and show you how. you cant blame the coaches for not finding the perfect position for him yet when a guys weight and speed have been all over the board. one month hes a linebacker next thing he's a corner...now he can get into playing shape. hell brent brewer is obviously a LB bc he had the size and was more of presents in the box than in the middle of the field. but he came in lighter

Huttdawg100 writes:

His JUCO highlight film was awesome. The guy was all over the place: pick 6's, kick off returns for TDs, punt returns. He was a shutdown corner. Miami was all over him, but he picked Tennessee. The kid has talent, and I expect him to show up this year.

LaDarrell McNeil is Eric Berry Jr.

Testosterone writes:

in response to BIVOLAR_BEARE:

Go Byron, you keep working hard and big rewards are just around the corner for you and the whole team..GBO!!

Now, how would you know? You won't even go to your own kid's games... gotta agree with the big "10" on that one.

GREAT game there Monday night, don't you think HB??

A RIGHTFUL KENTUCKY CORONATION...

THEKIDWISCONSIN writes:

Good to hear. It was disappointing with all the secondary issues last year that Moore didn't live up to his hype...but then we forget sometimes these are kids and it's a big change. We do need him this year, so good to read he's settling in.

Go VOLS!

TitanandVolfan4life writes:

Coming from a JUCO team to a big school, especially a SEC school, is a HUGE change and difference.

JUCO is more like high school competition and the SEC is the best of the best so never expect a JUCO kid to come in and make a huge impact their 1st year.

We Vols fans always love to OVERexpect but that's because we think we can win every game every season and not 1 team in America can do that.

CDD has us back on the right track so we need to let him keep going with his rebuilding plan and get it finished.

Most have no clue that this was a definate 4 to 5 year total rebuild of our football program and this is just starting year 3 so I think we're a bit ahead of things and we're doing it the right ways so when we get back on top we'll be competing seriously every year for the SEC East Championship.

VFL...GBO!!!

SCVFL writes:

I hope TN is back on the right track. If you look at the position recruiting, it is obvious that CDD knows where he needs help.
Question is can he and staff make the most of the talent to start winning. The defense appears on paper to have lots of potential. Same for the offense. I do not see anyone different for kick/punt and can only pray that they get coached up really well.
CDD needs to start showing positive evidence of turning TN around...probably needs 8 wins. I agree that traditionally a coach needs 5 years to prove himself, thats when he has all of his recruits (no one to blame for problems).
I like CDD and most of his staff and hope they have the needed success, but this fall will tell all.
I will always love TN regardless, but it is easier to do so when their winning.
FANfor55Years, VFL, GBO

Ironcity writes:

in response to AlexAndersonAAradio:

Please... If were that simple you wouldn't need coaches.

If was all about coaches all of us posters would be star players with our fantastic attitudes and desire.

Pompey writes:

in response to AlexAndersonAAradio:

One of many examples how we aren't scouting prospects properly or not developing them. This guy was suppose to be great and barely saw the field of the worst secondary I've ever seen at UT.

.....wrong again troll! Listen carefully; this is an example of a talented player showing up over weight and not prepared to play at an SEC level because he needed to learn the system. Dooley will prove to be a better recruiter than Fullmer because he will keep more people that he signs....but you just keep on living under that bridge...Brahahahaha!

lomas98 writes:

in response to AlexAndersonAAradio:

One of many examples how we aren't scouting prospects properly or not developing them. This guy was suppose to be great and barely saw the field of the worst secondary I've ever seen at UT.

Happens everywhere, not just at TN. Some kids it takes a while to adjust to not only speed of game, but college life in general. Some kids are misses in scouting. Some have attitude problems and are not very coachable. Some fit the bill right from the beginning and live up to hype. It happens.

Ayres_Hall writes:

The past is well...

It will be good to see Byron on the field. He will be needed.

hikerdude writes:

in response to BigOrange_supporter:

28th ranked defense in nation last year, not bad for worst secondary you have ever seen.

Wilcox did an outstanding job with the talent he had.

CarlChilders writes:

Love the caption under the pic. Can't wait to see the Vols play Montana again, this time on a Monday night.

CoverOrange writes:

in response to AllVol1:

JUCO's are especially hyped because they have already played above high school level. In actuality, it is rare to have a Cam Newton type of break out first year from a JUCO transfer. For every Cam, there are twenty-five Byron Moore's, who for various reasons, need to adjust to the level of play and all else. I look forward to seeing what he can do this year for the Vols in the SEC.

If Cam had gone anywhere but Auburn or back to Florida, he would not have won the Heisman or an NC. Kismet between a player of great talent and an OC that can use it.

givehim6 writes:

Eric Berry set the bar so high for the backfield at UT, but wish UT could find one or two more like him.

Want to participate in the conversation? Become a subscriber today. Subscribers can read and comment on any story, anytime. Non-subscribers will only be able to view comments on select stories.

Features