The Tennessee Vols have had quite a week.
On Wednesday, news broke that Cade Mays is transferring from Georgia to Tennessee.
And on Thursday, Trey Smith, one of the SEC’s best offensive linemen, announced in a press conference that he’s returning to UT for his senior season.
Giddy up 🤠 pic.twitter.com/NAPEVaXlp4
— Tennessee Football (@Vol_Football) January 9, 2020
The Vols also recently learned that center Brandon Kennedy was granted a sixth year of eligibility. All of this good news, combined with the fact that Mays might be eligible to play in 2020 (depending on the outcome of his NCAA waiver), means Tennessee could legitimately have one of the best offensive lines in the country next year.
That’s a far cry from where the Vols’ offensive line was just a few years ago (when it was among the worst in the SEC).
Tennessee finished the 2019 season with an incredible amount of momentum (Clemson and LSU are the only teams in the nation with longer winning streaks), and that momentum should continue into next season.
The Vol have a chance to be the team that surprises everyone in 2020. They’re going to have plenty of returning defensive line experience. They have some young wide receivers who will be ready to step up to replace Jauan Jennings and Marquez Callaway (Ramel Keyton looked like a future star in the Gator Bowl). Plus there’s Eric Gray, who could be the next great running back in the SEC.
And let’s not forget about incoming quarterback Harrison Bailey, who has the potential to be one of the top quarterbacks in the SEC.
When you combine all of that with Tennessee’s potentially dominant offensive line, there’s an argument to be made that UT is a darkhorse to win the SEC East in 2020.
Georgia is going into a mini-rebuild (especially with Jake Fromm heading to the NFL). The only other team Tennessee really has to worry about is Florida (who I think should be the favorites to win the SEC East in 2020).
As of now, I think it’s a toss-up between Georgia and Tennessee for second and third place in the SEC East.
But as we all know, rarely does the SEC East play out like everyone thinks it will.
It really feels like Tennessee is on the verge of something special. And this isn’t like when folks thought they were turning the corner under Butch Jones.
The Butch teams felt like an imposter Tennessee team. It wasn’t traditional UT football.
Under Pruitt, however, this feels like the Vols of old. I might be wrong, but I think Tennessee is finally ready to start their climb back to the top of the SEC East.
Football in Tennessee is about to be fun again.
Featured image via Randy Sartin/USA Today