Tennessee football freshman Shawn Shamburger forcing position battle at cornerback


Shawn Shamburger impresses

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. – Position battles have dominated the narrative for the Tennessee football team throughout fall camp, but not many expected one at the cornerback position.

Coach Butch Jones raised eyebrows after practice Tuesday by saying freshman Shawn Shamburger had impressed the coaching staff.

Shamburger continued his strong play in fall practice by having the stripe, which newcomers wear, removed from his helmet Friday.

Jones said after practice Shamburger remains a player standing out to the coaching staff.

“In terms of Shawn Shamburger, he’s an individual who has really stepped up in the last few practices,” Jones said. “He’s really made his presence known at the corner position.”

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Tennessee conducted a scrimmage Wednesday night in Neyland Stadium, and Jones added praise to the freshman defensive back.

“The other night, I like the way he fielded run support,” Jones said. “We challenged him with some deep balls and he was able to play the ball in the air and find the blind spot. He’s an individual who is pushing the older players.”

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Senior safety Micah Abernathy singled out Shamburger and Theo Jackson after practice as defensive backs who have impressed the veterans.

Many expected graduate transfer Shaq Wiggins to come in and contribute in the defensive backfield along with fellow seniors Justin Martin and Emmanuel Moseley. Wiggins played in eight games last season for Louisville. He recorded 8 tackles and 3 pass breakups.

Unheralded recruit

Shamburger pushing Wiggins for his job might be a little surprising. The 6-foot, 191-pound freshman didn’t come to Knoxville as the most heralded recruit. He rated as a 3-star prospect out of Moultrie, Ga., and ranked as the No. 111 cornerback in the Class of 2017, according to the 247Sports composite rankings.

Shamburger’s surge into a position battle means Jones was serious when he said the best players will play regardless of age when the season begins against Georgia Tech on Sept. 4 in Atlanta.

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