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Where Tennessee Football Lands In Post Spring Practice SEC Power Rankings

Tennessee Football Basketball
Tennessee football head coach Josh Heupel. Photo by Tennessee Athletics.

Spring practices across the country are over and transfer portal is closed after a two week opening to end last month. While there’s a handful of players still in the transfer portal looking for new homes, rosters are almost completely set ahead of the 2024-25 season.

With that reality, CBS Sports released its post spring practice SEC football power rankings on Monday afternoon. Tennessee football came in at No. 6 in the new expanded 16-team SEC.

The Vols came in behind Georgia, Texas, Ole Miss, Alabama and Missouri while coming in directly ahead of LSU, Oklahoma, Kentucky and Texas A&M.

“It’s Nico time in Tennessee,” CBS’ Will Backus wrote. “After sitting behind Joe Milton for a majority of his freshman season and winning Citrus Bowl Bowl MVP honors in his first career start, Nico Iamaleava is gliding into the 2024 season as Tennessee’s unquestioned starter at quarterback. An experienced offensive line that returns three starters, a backfield paced by Dylan Sampson and a wide receiver corps featuring six players with at least three years of collegiate experience will help him overcome any early growing pains.

“Keep an eye on Tennessee’s defense; it’s quietly gotten better every year under Josh Heupel. With a deep rotation along the line and an edge rusher like James Pearce Jr. wreaking havoc in opposing backfields, this group might take its biggest leap yet.”

Backus hits it on the head, all eyes are on Iamaleava entering his first season as Tennessee’s starting quarterback. The Vols offense sputtered for the first time under head coach Josh Heupel during an 9-4 2023 campaign due in large part to Milton’s pedestrian play.

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Now the former five-star quarterback steps into the spotlight. Iamaleava played in four games during the regular season before starting in the Vols’ Citrus Bowl win over Iowa where he accounted for 178 yards and four touchdowns.

The development of a receiving core that was average last season will be key to Iamaleava’s development as will the health of a thin offensive line.

Defensively, this should be defensive coordinator Tim Banks and Heupel’s best defense in their four years in Knoxville thanks to a defensive line that should be one of the nation’s best.

Tennessee’s eight game conference schedule sees them face Georgia (No. 1 in the power rankings), Alabama (4), Oklahoma (8), Kentucky (9), Florida (11), Arkansas (14), Mississippi State (15) and Vanderbilt (16).

So, yeah, Tennessee has an incredibly manageable conference slate next season. Combine that with a non conference schedule that includes a neutral site showdown with North Carolina State and no other challenging matchups.

With that in mind, Tennessee has a clear path to making the expanded College Football Playoffs this season.

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