See Where Tennessee Ranks In Way-Too-Early College Football Top 25s

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Tennessee AlabamaPhoto By Kate Luffman/Tennessee Athletics

The 2022-23 college football season is in the rearview with Georgia successfully defending its College Football Playoff National Championship. The day after the national championship is synonymous with way-too-early rankings for the next season.

It’s no different this season as outlets and publications have released their early rankings for the 2023 football season.

The Vols rank between ninth and 14th in the way-too-early rankings as Tennessee looks to follow up its best season in the past 21 years.

Tennessee loses star quarterback Hendon Hooker as well as All-SEC selections Jalin Hyatt, Cedric Tillman, Darnell Wright and Byron Young. While the Vols lose talent, they return a strong play along the line of scrimmage and young talent at the skill positions.

Take a look at where Tennessee lands in way-too-early rankings.

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ESPN

Tennessee rank: No. 10

SEC rank: No. 4

Opponents in rankings: No. 1 Georgia, No. 5 Alabama, No. 22 UTSA

What they said: “The Volunteers enjoyed their best campaign in more than two decades and finally returned to national relevancy. Now, Josh Heupel has to replace many of the key pieces from his high-flying offense, including Hooker and star wideouts Hyatt and Tillman. Michigan transfer Joe Milton played well during a 31-14 victory over Clemson in the Capital One Orange Bowl, throwing for 251 yards with three touchdowns. Iamaleava, an incoming freshman from Downey, California, was the No. 6 pocket passer in the ESPN 300. Offensive coordinator Alex Golesh was hired as South Florida’s coach, and Heupel promoted quarterbacks coach Joey Halzle as his replacement. The Volunteers have to figure out a way to get better on defense, and they’ll have to do it without top pass-rusher Young and three other starters”

247sports

Tennessee rank: No. 12

SEC rank: No. 4

Opponents in rankings: No. 1 Georgia, No. 2 Alabama, No. 21 South Carolina

What they said: “This offense replaces a couple key playmakers, including Jalin Hyatt and Hendon Hooker, but new-look Tennessee did take Clemson in the Orange Bowl with Joe Milton at quarterback. He’ll be on the preseason Heisman shortlist next season given his talent level under center. Josh Heupel’s program will hope to continue its surge nationally, but will be the hunted this time around.”

Athlon Sports

Tennessee rank: No. 9

SEC rank: No. 4

Opponents in rankings: No. 1 Georgia, No. 5 Alabama, No. 25 South Carolina, No. 27 UTSA

What they said: “Despite losing quarterback Hendon Hooker and receivers Jalin Hyatt and Cedric Tillman, it’s safe to assume coach Josh Heupel will reload Tennessee’s high-powered offense in ’23. Five-star freshman Nico Iamaleava will factor into the mix to replace Hooker, but Joe Milton’s performance (251 yards and three scores) in the Orange Bowl entrenched his position atop the depth chart. Milton’s development and a retooled receiving corps set to feature Bru McCoy and Squirrel White will decide just how high the Volunteers can climb in the SEC East.”

Yahoo! Sports

Tennessee rank: No. 10

SEC rank: No. 4

Opponents in rankings: No. 1 Georgia, No. 2 Alabama, No. 24 South Carolina

What they said: “Even without Hendon Hooker, Jalin Hyatt and Cedric Tillman, Tennessee’s offense looked pretty good in the Orange Bowl win over Clemson. Joe Milton stepped in at quarterback for Hooker and showed off arguably the strongest arm in college football. Will he be able to play that well against top-tier SEC competition? Or will five-star freshman Nico Iamaleava push him for the starting job? Josh Heupel brought Tennessee back into the national conversation quicker than expected. Now the challenge for the Vols will be maintaining that level of success before ultimately trying to surge past Georgia in the SEC East.”

The Athletic (Stewart Mandel)

Tennessee rank: No. 14

SEC rank: No. 4

Opponents in rankings: No. 1 Georgia, No. 5 Alabama, No. 23 UTSA

What they said: “Numerous stars depart, but the Vols’ Orange Bowl win was a sneak peak of 2023, when sixth-year senior Joe Milton likely becomes QB1, and Squirrel White and Bru McCoy the top WRs. Freshman WR Chas Nimrod could emerge as well, and RB Jaylen Wright (875 yards) should play a bigger role. Standout LB Aaron Beasley and NT Omari Thomas announced their returns, but the defense as a whole could be inexperienced.”

Sports Illustrated

Tennessee rank: No. 12

SEC rank: No. 4

Opponents in rankings: No. 1 Georgia, No. 7 Alabama, No. 19 South Carolina, No. 22 UTSA

What they said: “There is a lot of skill-position turnover for the Volunteers, starting with quarterback Hendon Hooker and star receivers Jalin Hyatt and Cedric Tillman. The offensive line is losing a couple of mainstays as well. Tennessee had a couple of notable receiver misses in the portal, losing both Dominic Lovett (Missouri) and Rara Thomas (Mississippi State) to Georgia, but Josh Heupel’s offense will still function at a high rate. Defensively, where improvement must be made, the Vols did get a nice pickup at linebacker in BYU transfer Keenan Pili (nearly 200 career tackles). The overall program momentum should continue, and playing eight games in the state of Tennessee won’t hurt.”

Author: Ethan Moore