Prentiss Waggner is known for his versatility in Tennessee’s secondary.
Even defensive-back coach Terry Joseph refers to Waggner as a “jack of all trades.”
The six-foot-two, 187-pound junior has started games at both safety positions and at cornerback over the last two years.
Because of the dismissal of Janzen Jackson in August, Waggner began this year playing free safety instead of cornerback, the position he is a more natural fit at.
“Prentiss was there in the beginning,” coach Derek Dooley said. “That was kind of what we wanted to do back in fall camp. We weren’t able to do that when we lost a safety (Jackson), but Brian Randolph has been playing better. We’ll keep tinkering with it. (Marsalis) Teague will keep playing, and we’ll just keep shuffling it around to try to find something that works on gameday.”
Against LSU on Saturday, Waggner replaced Teague as cornerback in the second half and expects to start there this Saturday against Alabama.
“All practice I’ve been getting all those reps at corner,” Waggner said Tuesday. “I really haven’t been getting that many reps at safety today, so I’d say this week I’ll be out on the island.”
Waggner’s ball-hawking ability and awareness allows him to be productive matched up one-on-one against the best receivers in the SEC on that island.
“Dating back to last year, this spring and early this fall, Prentiss has shown that he is a crafty guy,” defensive coordinator Justin Wilcox said. “He knows how to play routes and knows what offenses are trying to do to him in terms of spacing. He just has good instincts, so we expect him to go out there and play well.”
Second time around
Quarterback Matt Simms was his harshest critic following his first start of the season against LSU, calling his performance “terrible.”
Simms acknowledged he was more nervous and anxious than he thought he would be in his first start since the South Carolina game last October and believes he’ll be more calm this week, even on the road against the Crimson Tide.
 “I think I’ll definitely be more comfortable in the pocket, more comfortable in our game plan and just being out on the field and being the guy again,” Simms said. “Hey, it’s not an easy task being on the road down there in Alabama, but I’m just really looking forward to the experience.”
Despite being thrown into the fire against arguably the two best teams and defenses in college football, the senior relishes the opportunity.
“You can’t pick and choose who you play against,” he said. “Hey, the first week it was rough for my first start, playing the No. 1 team in the country, but like I said, I’m just looking forward to playing the No. 2 team in the country.”