Where Tennessee Football Lands in Way-Too-Early Rankings

Tennessee Football

Tennessee FootballTennessee quarterback Joe Milton III wearing the traditional orange and white football uniform. Photo By Kate Luffman/Tennessee Athletics.

Even though the National Championship hasn’t taken place, there already looks to buzz around the 2023 college football season.

Over the weekend, the Action Network’s Brett McMurphy released his “way-too-early” College Football Top 25 for the 2023 season.

Despite a strong close to the season with a victory over No. 7 Clemson in the Capital One Orange Bowl, McMurphy does have Tennessee falling in comparison to where they will end the 2022 season. There’s still respect for Joe Milton III and Tennessee, but only just enough to place the Vols into one of the final eight spots.

McMurphy has Josh Heupel’s Tennessee Volunteers coming in as the No. 18 team in his way-too-early 2023 rankings.

McMurphy also notes seven schedule highlights for Tennessee next year:

Sep. 2 – vs Virginia (Nashville)
Sep. 16 – at Florida
Sep. 23 – vs UTSA
Sep. 30 – vs South Carolina
Oct. 14 – vs Texas A&M
Oct. 21 – at Alabama
Nov. 18 – vs Georgia

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Action Network’s rankings have Tennessee as the fourth-ranked team from the SEC behind No. 1 Georgia, No. 2 Alabama, and No. 6 LSU.

Other notable way-too-early spots include Clemson at No. 9, TCU at No. 11, Texas Tech at No. 14, Texas at No. 17, Tulane at No. 19, and Pitt at No. 22. There are no other SEC teams apart from Georgia, Alabama, LSU, and Tennessee.

There’s no question that Tennessee will have to replace some incredibly talented playmakers next season – in addition to a new playcaller/offensive coordinator following the departure of Alex Golesh. Tennessee will be replacing Hendon Hooker, Jalin Hyatt, Cedric Tillman, Princeton Fant, Darnell Wright, Jeremy Banks, and Trevon Flowers at the minimum. Throw in the possibility of Jerome Carvin and Juwan Mitchell and there are certainly question marks all over the place.

But the Orange Bowl against Clemson did prove that while the ingredients may look different during the 2023 season, the mindset and the goal are still set to be the same. Led by Joe Milton III, Bru McCoy, and Squirrel White next season, Tennessee’s offense will still want to attack teams with tempo and speed like they have the past two seasons. On the defensive side of the ball, it’ll be players such as Aaron Beasley and Joshua Josephs stepping into the biggest spots on the field.

Tennessee began the 2022 season not even on the AP Top 25 poll. The Vols sat as the first team on the outside looking in with 180 votes received, still more than 50 away from then-No. 25 BYU. After starting the season with a win against Ball State, though, Tennessee entered the poll and never looked back. Tennessee rose from unranked to No. 2 in the AP poll in just nine weeks as the Vols also boasted a No. 1 ranking from the College Football Playoffs at the time.

Eventual losses to Georgia and South Carolina did knock Tennessee back to No. 9 in the country as the Vols held a Top 10 ranking from Week 4 until the end of the season.

Where do you think Tennessee Football will be ranked entering the 2023 season? Is No. 18 too high? Too low? Sound off in the comments section below!

The Action Network’s Way-Too-Early Top 10 is as follows:

Florida State
Ohio State
Penn State

Author: Ethan Moore