With spring camp and the rearview mirror, Athlon Sports has officially released its preseason All-SEC selections entering the 2022-2023 season. A total of ten Tennessee players are represented on that list with five offensive players, four defensive players, and one specialist.
Tennessee’s preseason All-SEC selections, as determined by Athlon Sports, are as follows:
All-SEC First Team:
- WR Cedric Tillman
- EDGE Byron Young
All-SEC Second Team:
- QB Hendon Hooker
- LB Jeremy Banks
All-SEC Third Team:
- OL Jerome Carvin
- EDGE Tyler Baron
- P Paxton Brooks
All-SEC Fourth Team
- RB Jabari Small
- OL Darnell Wright
- DB Trevon Flowers
All-SEC First Team WR Cedric Tillman: How a Tennessee Wide Receiver Went From Two-Star to Superstar
Heading into the 2021 season, Josh Heupel’s first year in Knoxville, Tennessee had five preseason All-SEC selections from Athlon Sports. Former Tennessee wide receiver Velus Jones Jr was listed as the first-team kickoff returner, while OL Cade Mays and punter Paxton Brooks were second-team selections. Former Tennessee defensive lineman Matthew Butler was a third-team selection, while current Vol wide receiver Jalin Hyatt was a fourth-team pick.
With ten total selections in 2022, Tennessee has doubled its preseason All-SEC selections in just one year under head coach Josh Heupel and his staff.
Tennessee wide receiver Cedric Tillman and quarterback Hendon Hooker, a first-team and second-team selection respectively, are one of the biggest reasons why most are optimistic about Tennessee’s outlook in 2022. By the end of the season, the pairing became one of the SEC’s most dynamic duos as Tillman became Hooker’s go-to guy.
In Tennessee’s first six games last season, Tillman did not eclipse the 100-yard mark in receiving as the Vols were still figuring out the new offense with the personnel at hand. However, halfway through the season, something clicked for Tillman and Hooker. Tillman ended the season with more than 100 receiving yards in five out of Tennessee’s final six games, including a 200-yard, 10-reception game against No. 1 Georgia’s vaunted defense.
Tillman averaged just under four catches and 49 yards per game in Tennessee’s first six games of the season. In comparison, Tillman averaged just under seven receptions and 131 receiving yards per game in the final six games of his season. Tillman did not play against Tennessee Tech, dropping his total game total to 12 for context.
It’s also good to see players on Tennessee’s defensive getting recognition in the preseason. With all of the attention that Tennessee’s high-powered offense receives, the defense is often on the outside looking in on the biggest Tennessee football stories. Despite not landing in Top 10 defensive statistical categories like the Vols’ offense, Tennessee’s defense was still vitally important last year featuring players such as Young, Baron, and Banks. While Tennessee does lose a number of players from last year’s defense, including most of the defensive line (Butler, Caleb Tremblay, Jay Blakely), Tennessee does still have quality returning starters that are going to be expected to lead Tennessee’s defense next season.