Cornerback is top-heavy
Brown and Parker weren’t the only freshmen who have fans excited about this squad’s potential in the next couple of seasons. Peter Woods turned some heads, even though he wasn’t a starter. Khalil Barnes was a standout at safety.
Two cornerbacks impressed as well. Avieon Terrell didn’t get much hype early but steadily improved through the season. When injuries put Sheridan Jones and Jeadyn Lukus on the shelf, it was Terrell who was tapped to take the starting role over Toriano Pride.
Shelton Lewis also moved ahead of Pride on the depth chart and saw a lot of playing time in the second half of the season. This resulted in Pride’s decision to transfer to Missouri.
Terrell and Lewis started the Gator Bowl, and not much happened on Terrell’s side. He locked it down very well. Kentucky picked on Lewis in his first start, but when the Tigers needed a clutch play to close out the game, it was Lewis who intercepted Devin Leary.
We don’t know if Lukus will be available in spring practices or not, but he should be back for fall camp at the latest. An initial rotation of Lukus, Terrell, and Lewis looks good on paper. After that, there is a lot of inexperience.
Myles Oliver missed most of his first two seasons in the program with injuries. Brandon Strozier played a little but also missed the Gator Bowl due to injury. He will be a redshirt freshman.
After that, the Tigers will have three true freshmen: Corian Gipson, Tavoy Feagin, and Ashton Hampton. Gipson was rated highly in high school. Feagin and Hampton both have potential.
The numbers are there, but the experience is thin. Even though Terrell and Lewis got considerable playing time as true freshmen, Lukus is the only player who isn’t technically a sophomore or freshman (Oliver is a redshirt sophomore/third-year guy, but has only played in two games).
Fans like Luke and Rumph because they are new voices who will bring a different perspective. Mike Reed is one of the more respected coaches who has been on the staff for several years. He is also a voice who could speak up if the depth at corner becomes an issue.
In the spring game, you need twice as many starters as you would in a normal game. It might not be a bad thing if Lukus sits spring out. Reed will get a better idea if Oliver, Strozier, or any of the early enrollees can cut it.