After going 4-8 and 5-7 in back-to-back seasons, you’re not likely to get much respect from national media outlets. Such is the case with the Vols this offseason.
Athlon Sports released their 2019 preseason All-SEC teams this week, and there were very few Tennessee players to be found on any of the teams. Athlon didn’t just have a first and second team; no, their preseason All-SEC teams went into the third and fourth team selections as well.
Of the 108 possible spots in Athlon’s teams, only six were occupied by Vols, and no Vol players made it onto the first team.
Only one Vol was even voted as a Preseason Second-Team All-SEC player by Athlon, and that was wide receiver Marquez Callaway. The rising senior didn’t get voted as a second team receiver, though; his selection was for punt returner. Callaway has returned two punts for touchdowns in his three seasons as a Vol, and he averages 13.4 yards per punt return on 29 career returns. Alabama’s Jaylen Waddle earned the first team punt returner spot.
Callaway and running back Ty Chandler were the only Vols on offense to earn a spot on any of the All-SEC teams for Athlon. Both Callaway and Chandler were voted to the fourth team offense.
On defense, three Vols were voted as All-SEC performers. Linebacker Darrell Taylor and safety Nigel Warrior made it onto the third team defense, and cornerback Bryce Thompson was voted to the fourth team.
All in all, only Mississippi State and Ole Miss had fewer overall selections to Athlon’s All-SEC teams. Both Mississippi schools ended up with five All-SEC performers, but Ole Miss didn’t have a player voted to either the first or second team. Vanderbilt had six All-SEC selections just like the Vols, though they had two players voted to the first team offense.
Unsurprisingly, Alabama led the way with 13 overall selections, including seven first team choices. Florida and Auburn both had 10 All-SEC selections, and Georgia and Missouri came in fourth with nine players voted to the teams.
The only other teams with no first team selections along with Tennessee were Ole Miss and South Carolina.
Here’s a breakdown of how many players each team have on Athlon’s All-SEC teams with the number first team selections in parenthesis:
Alabama – 13 (7)
Auburn – 10 (2)
Florida – 10 (2)
Georgia – 9 (4)
Missouri – 9 (3)
South Carolina – 8
Arkansas – 7 (1)
Kentucky – 7 (1)
LSU – 7 (2)
Texas A&M – 7 (2)
Tennessee – 6
Vanderbilt – 6 (2)
Mississippi State – 5 (1)
Ole Miss – 5