Tennessee’s football program hasn’t won a national title since the 1998 season, but one of the players that helped the Vols bring home that title thinks UT is in store for more championship opportunities in the near future.
Peerless Price, a former standout wide receiver for the Vols who was part of that 1998 championship team, appeared on The Paul Finebaum Show and was asked about Tennessee’s recent recruiting success. The Vols currently have the No. 2 recruiting class in the 2021 cycle after grabbing almost a dozen commitments from highly-ranked prospects over the last few weeks, and it’s led to a wave of optimism about the future of Tennessee football.
It would appear that Price is a big believer in that future, too.
“I think once this 2021 class becomes juniors, we’ll be in the college football playoffs and competing for national titles,” Price said on The Finebaum Show.
Price certainly knows what it takes to win a title at Tennessee. He was part of the undefeated 1998 team that defeated Florida State 23-16 in the Fiesta Bowl to bring the championship back to Knoxville. Price was the MVP of that title game, bringing down the deciding touchdown in the fourth quarter to go along with 199 receiving yards in the game.
The star wideout believes that Tennessee is amassing the talent to once again make national title dreams become a reality on Rocky Top.
The Vols’ 2020 class has yet to see the field, and the 2021 class is still active and not officially signed. But as it stands right now, Tennessee is in line to sign back-to-back top-10 classes with the 2020 and 2021 classes if the Vols can hold on to who they have currently committed.
Tennessee holds commitments from two five-stars in outside linebacker Terrence Lewis and defensive end Dylan Brooks, and seven other commitments are rated as four-stars in the 247Sports Composite rankings. Yet another five commits are ranked inside the top 600 prospects, and Tiyon Evans is the No. 1 junior college running back in the 2021 class.
That 2021 class is far from done, too. The Vols are still pursuing five-stars like offensive tackle Amarius Mims, outside linebacker Smael Mondon, and cornerback Tony Grimes along with other elite recruits such as wide receiver Dont’e Thornton, defensive tackle Payton Page, defensive end Jeremiah Williams, linebacker Junior Colson, offensive lineman Dietrick Pennington, and others.
When the majority of the Vols’ 2021 class will be juniors at Tennessee will be in 2023. That’s another four seasons away, but that’s when Price expects the Vols to be competing for a national title again.
Tennessee hasn’t truly competed for a national championship in the College Football Playoff era, and the last time the Vols were in the title picture was in the early 2000s.
After Price helped the Vols go undefeated and win a national title in 1998, the Vols were right back in the thick of things in 2001 before losing 31-20 to LSU in the SEC Championship Game. Tennessee was a top 10 team again in 2003 and 2004 before their 5-6 season in 2005. After bouncing back in 2006 and 2007, the beginning of UT’s downfall commenced in 2008.
It’s been a long road back to relevance for Tennessee, but the Vols may finally be climbing out of the pit. And if Price is right, then Tennessee will be back near the top of the college football world in a few years.