With Riyahd Jones out and Vincent Dallas in, Vols scrambling at cornerback

Tennessee wide receiver Vincent Dallas (6) runs the ball in the second quarter against South Carolina at Williams-Brice Stadium in Columbia, S.C., Saturday, Oct. 27, 2012. (ADAM BRIMER/NEWS SENTINEL)

Photo by Adam Brimer, Knoxville News Sentinel

Tennessee wide receiver Vincent Dallas (6) runs the ball in the second quarter against South Carolina at Williams-Brice Stadium in Columbia, S.C., Saturday, Oct. 27, 2012. (ADAM BRIMER/NEWS SENTINEL)

The decision to move Vincent Dallas from receiver to cornerback happened so suddenly that the equipment staff didn’t even have time to stitch his last name to the back of his new orange jersey.

When junior cornerback Riyahd Jones ambled off the practice field on crutches, it became clear why the position switch became so abruptly necessary.

If the injury to Jones is significant as it appears it might be, the already precarious depth at cornerback will be even thinner.

Moving Dallas is one way to try to stem the bleeding.

In another move not directly related to Jones’ injury, freshman safety Jalen Reeves-Maybin worked at outside linebacker on Monday. Many thought that Reeves-Maybin might eventually move to linebacker in 2014. But coaches are apparently toying with the idea in 2013.

Coaches cautioned that both moves were experimental and that coach Butch Jones would have final say on all personnel matters. Jones isn’t scheduled to speak to the media until Tuesday.

“We’re trying to develop some depth at (cornerback),” said defensive coordinator John Jancek. “Vincent has experience there, so we’re taking a look at it.”

Dallas was a reserve receiver in 2011 as a freshman, but switched to defensive back last summer. After going through the entire camp on defense, he switched back to receiver in late August. (That move could have been prompted by the loss of Da’Rick Rogers, who was kicked off the team just before the season). Dallas caught nine passes for 149 yards in 2012.

No players spoke to the media after practice on Monday, but Jancek said Dallas was receptive to the move.

“He was more than willing,” Jancek said. “(He’s a) great kid, very attentive, listened, picked up a couple things.”

As for Reeves-Maybin, coaches were even more cautious in discussing the move, describing it as “experimental.”

As recently as this spring, defensive backs coach Willie Martinez had vowed that he wouldn’t let Reeves-Maybin be snatched away from him. But other needs may have won out.

“He’s a very smart player, and he’s got good size,” Jancek said. “I think his natural fit is going to be at linebacker as we move forward. He’s only going to get bigger and we need some help at that position. He’s a guy that I would say has the skill set to play all three positions (at linebacker).”

Neither linebacker nor safety is as pressing a worry for the Vols as the cornerback spot.

If Riyahd Jones misses all or part of the season, it’s almost a certainty that a freshman — likely Cameron Sutton — will start and play a significant role in the defense.

Buried behind bigger names and more highly rated recruits in the 2013 signing class, Sutton has been impressive during the first two weeks of camp. He was the first newcomer to have the black stripe on his helmet removed, and Butch Jones has praised him regularly.

“Cam has been balling out,” starting cornerback Justin Coleman said last weekend. “He’s doing the things that cornerbacks need to do: Catching picks, doing everything right.”

Riyahd Jones, a junior college signee who arrived this spring, was expected to hold down one of the starting spots. Butch Jones will likely address his status on Tuesday.

After Monday, the cornerback position has only Coleman and many questions.

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Comments » 11

mikethehistorystudent writes:

First! Well this sucks but I know Dallas can hold down that spot just fine. With North looking strong in practice we may be better than expected in the area of receivers. It's good to hear positives about Sutton.

DukeDeLuca2 writes:

What happened to that regiment of studly defensive backs that showed up on campus last fall under Dooley? Did they all leave?

10seVol85_Part_Deux writes:

in response to DukeDeLuca2:

What happened to that regiment of studly defensive backs that showed up on campus last fall under Dooley? Did they all leave?

Yeah, where is Deion Bonner? He's the other 4-star DB from the 2012 class, but he's not even on the roster now.

There are, however, 17 DBs on the current roster. Surely we can have enough for a decent 2-deep at corner.

John_10065 writes:

in response to 10seVol85_Part_Deux:

Yeah, where is Deion Bonner? He's the other 4-star DB from the 2012 class, but he's not even on the roster now.

There are, however, 17 DBs on the current roster. Surely we can have enough for a decent 2-deep at corner.

Deion Bonner was suspended indefinitely for violation of teams rules.

He had a problem with sticky fingers, remember?

CarlChilders writes:

Recruit depth with TEAM players! Seems that UT has had way too many people in recent years that didn't want to hang around if they got their feelings hurt or couldn't start.

tonyvick#213307 writes:

We seem to be the only SEC team hurt by injuries, geez.

johnlg00 writes:

To Tony: I doubt it. We hear about the Vols' injuries on a daily basis. If we were following other teams as closely, we would probably see that everybody has injuries. It's just that the injuries the Vols have had so far hurt the two positions that needed the most improvement over last year. The injuries to Smith and Vereen slow the improvement of the pass rush, and the CBs hurt us a lot last year. Such losses hurt the Vols more than they would some other teams because they had less depth and experience to begin with.

Rumblefish writes:

Somebody get rid of this injury bug please!

EastTnVols962 writes:

in response to tonyvick#213307:

We seem to be the only SEC team hurt by injuries, geez.

Clowney's out at USC right now. Spurrier's saying he may not be ready for their opener against UNC. Other schools are facing injuries as well. Unless you frequent other team's sites or unless it's a high profile player, you simply don't hear about it.

rbwtn writes:

Other football players Heads-up. Pay attention You never know what's going to happen to a team that's rebuilding. You could Start if you got what it takes as a freshman. In the SEC "starting" can get you automatically in the pros. at least you'll have a great chance!
I like the coaching at the Vols we have a better insight into what's going on with the close coverage we're getting. Good Job Guys!

JonGrudensAgent writes:

This defense is going to be a complete mess this season.

Which is actually an improvement over last year.

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