The Tennessee Vols are one of the most storied programs in college football history.

Tennessee has won 846 total games since beginning competition in 1891, which is No. 13 all-time in the sport.

(If you remove the Ivy league programs, which dominated the early years of the sport, then UT is a top ten winning program of all-time.)

Over the last 15 years, however, things haven’t gone nearly as well for the Vols.

Tennessee hasn’t reached the SEC championship game since the 2007 season. That was also the last time UT won 10 games.

Since 2005, the Vols have had eight losing seasons.

That means the players that Tennessee is now recruiting have grown up watching the Volunteers lose a lot of games. They have no idea what it’s like to experience UT football in the 90s when the color orange was a predominant part of must-see television in the fall.

But despite the ups and most (mostly) downs in recent years, Tennessee football still has a reputation as being a powerhouse. The potential to be great never went away for the Vols and that’s what UT’s coaches are selling on the recruiting trail.

“The coaches (at Tennessee) are showing me that they are actually one of the top programs of all time. I like them. I like what I’m hearing,” said 2022 five-star defensive end Shemar Stewart this week when discussing his recruitment with Rivals.

Tennessee Vols

It’s obviously not ideal that Jeremy Pruitt and his staff have to explain to recruits that Tennessee is an all-time great program. But elite recruits like Stewart are at least open to learning that the Vols have been consistently great before.

I’m sure Pruitt and his assistants are pointing out that programs like Alabama have been down before (the Mike Shula years) and managed to climb their way back to the top of the college football world. The same is absolutely possible at Tennessee (the program has all the resources needed to be a top program).

The Vols still have a lot of work to do to get back among the elite programs in college football, but Tennessee’s past success suggests it’s likely they’ll get back there at some point in the not-so-distant future.

Featured image via 247Sports/Denny Medley-USA TODAY Sports
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