With spring practices across he country either over or winding down, ESPN updated its way-too-early top 25 rankings for the first time since January on Thursday.
After being unranked in the previous rankings, Tennessee climbed into ESPN’s top 25 at No. 23. The Vols haven’t been overly active in the transfer portal to date, but have added Florida offensive lineman Gerald Mincey and a pair of defensive backs.
“With quarterback Hendon Hooker, tailback Jabari Small and wide receiver Cedric Tillman coming back, the Volunteers should again be potent on offense,” ESPN’s Mark Schlabach wrote. “Mincey, a transfer from Florida, might get a long look in replacing Mays at tackle. The Vols lost two of their top wideouts, and they remain in the mix for former Southern California wide receiver Bru McCoy. The top three tacklers are coming back from last season, but help is needed in the secondary. Walker, a transfer from Georgia Tech, might help at nickelback. Tennessee could add another cornerback through the portal.”
Tennessee is the seventh of seven ranked SEC teams in the poll joining, No. 1 Alabama, No. 3 Georgia, No. 5 Texas A&M, No. 20 Arkansas, No. 21 Ole Miss and No. 22 Kentucky.
The Vols will only face Alabama, Georgia and Kentucky from that group, but will travel to No. 15 Pittsburgh the second week of the season.
Tennessee concluded Josh Heupel’s second spring practice at the end of last week after hosting its spring scrimmage the Saturday before. Junior receiver Jalin Hyatt was a spring standout on the offensive end while a number of defensive backs were out on the other side of the ball.
Heupel’s second season on Rocky Top begins on Sept. 1 at a newly renovated Neyland Stadium against Ball State.