Tennessee football’s 10 DTs with best NFL careers by Caleb Calhoun
KNOXVILLE, TN – OCTOBER 06: A general view of the Tennessee Volunteers taking the field before the start of their game against the Georgia Bulldogs at Neyland Stadium on October 6, 2007 in Knoxville, Tennessee. (Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images)
It’s safe to say that Tennessee football is not high on any oddsmaker’s list to win the national title, the SEC or even the SEC East this year. Heck, based on data from the ESPN FPI, it’s clear that setting their win total above seven games will be unlikely.
Well, Ben Kercheval of CBS Sports appears to be higher on the Vols than others, or at least he’s higher on the Vols than Las Vegas. Kercheval listed his undervalued team for ever Power Five conference, and Rocky Top was his pick for the SEC.
With odds to win the SEC reported at +10000, picking Tennessee football could certainly be a a lottery ticket. Here is a bit of what Kercheval said about why the Vols should still not be overlooked as a long shot despite a tougher schedule and no proven breakout stars.
The talent Coach Jeremy Pruitt has stockpiled is impressive. The Vols have a legit offensive line with a nice mix of proven veterans and young but promising tackles (Wanya Morris and Darnell Wright were SEC All-Freshman selections). The quarterback room is led by Jarrett Guarantano who, despite his ups and downs, has been good enough but there’s more upside behind him with blue-chip freshman Harrison Bailey. If there’s a Year 3 jump, it’s in part because of the guys Pruitt has recruited.
Joining the Vols were the Pittsburgh Panthers for the ACC, the Purdue Boilermakers for the Big Ten, Baylor Bears for the Big 12 and the Cal Golden Bears for the Pac-12. So while they are considered a great undervalued team on one hand, Vol fans won’t be happy about being compared to such programs like that in other conferences.
However, there is less competition to win those conferences, so its easier to undervalue mediocre teams. In the SEC, elite teams can obviously finish middle of the road. That’s not to say the Vols will be elite, but it does say there is more worth to them being undervalued than Pitt, for instance, being undervalued when everybody knows the Clemson Tigers will win the ACC.
An underrated aspect of Tennessee football this year is that while the schedule is tough, the Vols do get the Florida Gators and Alabama Crimson Tide at home. Nobody should ever pick them to beat either team, but they played Alabama tough last year in the fourth quarter. What happens if they run the table at home in Jeremy Pruitt’s third year?
All of a sudden, the Vols could be looking at a breakout campaign with just a couple of upset wins provided they don’t slip up at the South Carolina Gamecocks or Arkansas Razorbacks. Given how much better they should be in 2020, they are much closer to being competitive with those elite teams than people think. That’s why they are a great bet.