The expectations for the Tennessee Vols aren’t going to be very high in 2018.
Reaching a bowl game in Jeremy Pruitt’s first season as a head coach is considered the ceiling for Tennessee by most college football analysts.
And that’s completely fair. Pruitt, as a first time head coach, will face some ups-and-downs while leading a team coming off a 4-8 season in 2017 (the worst season in program history).
But the Vols should be able to compete for the SEC East division title, and be relevant on the national stage, in a relatively short amount of time.
Tennessee is among the top teams in the nation in terms of four/five-star players on their roster (during the 2016-2019 recruiting cycles).
Most combined #ESPN 4-star/5-star’s…rolling 4 year look (2016, ’17, ’18 & so far in 2019):#Alabama 76#OhioState 69#UGA 68 #Michigan 64#FSU 63#LSU 60#Sooners #Gigem 55#Auburn 54#USC #Gators 49#NotreDame #HookEm 48#Clemson #Canes 47 #PennState 41 #Vols #OleMiss 35
— Gerry Hamilton (@HamiltonESPN) July 6, 2018
The Vols have six four/five-star commits so far during the 2019 recruiting cycle. So even without counting those players, Tennessee still has top 25 talent heading into the 2018 season.
(Of note: seven of the teams listed above finished outside of the top 25 last season. Michigan, Florida State, Texas A&M, Floria, Texas, Tennessee and Ole Miss.)
The Volunteers obviously have a ways to go before they have the same caliber of talent as Alabama, Ohio State and Georgia. But they clearly have enough talent to finish inside the top 25 in Pruitt’s first season leading the Big Orange.
Is Tennessee going to compete for a national championship in year one or two of the Pruitt era?
But it shouldn’t be long before the Vols are among the top teams in the nation.
If Pruitt continues to deliver on promises, I think Tennessee could be in the college football playoff conversation by 2020.
I think most Vol fans would be quite happy with that outcome.
Featured image via SEC Country