Vols Named Biggest Underachiever in 2017

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    Photo By Kyle Zedaker/Tennessee Athletics

    To say the Vols’ 2017 football season was a disappointment is an understatement. The Vols put together their worst season in school history, and it cost Butch Jones his job.

    And in news that will surprise nobody, the Vols were deemed the biggest underachievers of the 2017 football season by SB Nation.

    According to SB Nation, the reason the Vols were the biggest underachievers this season (aside from the obvious) was because of the amount of talent on the roster compared to the results the team earned. According to SB Nation’s metric, the Vols were 8th in recruiting heading into the 2017 season (based on a running four year average of their national placement in the 247Sports Composite rankings). Which makes their 4-8 finish all the more disappointing.

    “The Vols were terrible and fired Butch Jones with two games left in the season, despite Jones signing national championship-caliber talent,” the article states. “It takes something special to be as bad as Tennessee was after spending almost half a decade recruiting with the big dogs.”

    According to 247Sports themselves, the Vols had the 12th-most talented roster in college football this past season. By 247Sports’ tally, the Vols had two five-stars, 30 four-stars, and 49 three-stars on their roster (before any attrition or injuries happened).

    Yet despite all that talent, the Vols couldn’t manage to defeat a single SEC team and struggled against the likes of UMass and Southern Miss as well.

    Tennessee’s 2017 season got off to a good start with a thrilling victory in double overtime against Georgia Tech that was followed up by a blowout win over FCS opponent Indiana State. But then the Vols suffered a heartbreaking loss to Florida on a last second touchdown pass, and it seemed like the team just unraveled from there.

    Speaking of the Gators, they’re right behind the Vols as the No. 2 biggest underachiever this season.

    “The Gators were also terrible, but at least they beat the Vols on an inexplicable Hail Mary,” says the article. “UF’s offense being bad is nothing new, but the Gators’ previously bodacious defense finished 73rd in yards allowed per play.”

    The SEC East was a letdown all its own outside of Georgia. The Bulldogs dominated the division this season, finishing 7-1 in conference play and defeating Auburn in the SEC Championship Game. South Carolina was the only other SEC East team to finish with a winning record in the conference, earning a 5-3 mark.

    Tennessee fans do have some good news now, however. Jeremy Pruitt is now the Vols’ head coach, and he’s assembled a coaching staff full of SEC experience and recruiting moxie. Only time will tell how Pruitt fares as a first-time head coach, but Vol fans are hopeful the former Alabama defensive coordinator can have success.

    Nathanael Rutherford is the managing editor and social media manager for Rocky Top Insider. Nathanael graduated from the University of Tennessee and cultivated a passion for the Vols while growing up in Knoxville a mere 10 minutes from Neyland Stadium. He's been a part of the RTI team since November of 2015 and has been the editor of RTI since June of 2017. If he's not talking or writing about Tennessee athletics, he's probably talking about Star Wars.