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Tracking Tennessee Football’s Individual Preseason Honors

Tennessee Football
Tennessee EDGE James Pearce Jr. Photo By Andrew Ferguson/Tennessee Athletics.

Football season is right around the corner, folks.

Texas and Oklahoma officially entered the conference on Monday as all 16 teams prepare for SEC Media Days in Dallas, TX, in mid-July. After that, though, it’s a straight shot to preseason training camp in August before the start of the season.

As Tennessee prepares for its fourth season under head coach Josh Heupel, several current Tennessee players are bringing in preseason All-SEC honors and selections.

The Vols’ honors (and the defensive side of the football) are led by James Pearce Jr. The junior EDGE rusher is racking up All-American and All-SEC honors like candy on Halloween as clearly one of the top players in the entire sport. Pearce is coming off a breakout season in 2023 and capped off the year with a shutdown performance over Iowa in the Citrus Bowl including a 50+ yard pick-six. Pearce has been named a First Team All-American and a First Team All-SEC selection from Walter Camp, Phil Steele, and Athlon Sports.

Tennessee’s other preseason First Team All-American is veteran center Cooper Mays. The Knoxville native battled through injury during the 2023 season but decided to return to Tennessee for his fifth and final season in 2024, anchoring the middle of the Vols’ line with a strong voice, experienced play, and high IQ. Mays was named a Second Team All-SEC selection from Athlon and Phil Steele.

Aside from one player, all of Tennessee’s All-SEC selections are returning players including household Tennessee names such as Dylan Sampson, Omari Thomas, and Squirrel White. Former LSU offensive tackle Lance Heard transferred to Tennessee over the offseason and is the Vols’ lone newcomer to receive an All-SEC selection. Heard was named to the SEC All-Freshman team last season with the Tigers.

Tennessee punter Jackson Ross is also the Vols’ only special teams representative to receive a nod.

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Here’s a look at Tennessee’s All-SEC preseason selections so far:

Tennessee Preseason All-SEC/All-American Selections (7/2/24)


Squirrel White – Junior Wide Receiver

  • Athlon Sports Third-Team All-SEC
  • Phil Steele Third-Team All-SEC


Javontez Spraggins – Senior Offensive Guard

  • Athlon Sports Third-Team All-SEC
  • Phil Steele Fourth-Team All-SEC


Dylan Sampson – Junior Running Back

  • Athlon Sports Third-Team All-SEC
  • Phil Steele Fourth-Team All-SEC


Cooper Mays – Senior Center

  • Walter Camp First-Team All-American
  • Athlon Sports Second-Team All-SEC
  • Phil Steele Second-Team All-SEC


Lance Heard – Sophomore Offensive Tackle

  • Athlon Sports Fourth-Team All-SEC



Omari Thomas – Senior Defensive Lineman

  • Athlon Sports Fourth-Team All-SEC


Keenan Pili – Senior Linebacker

  • Athlon Sports Third-Team All-SEC


James Pearce Jr. – Junior EDGE Rusher

  • Athlon Sports First-Team All-SEC
  • Phil Steele First-Team All-SEC
  • Walter Camp First-Team All-SEC
  • Athlon Sports First-Team All-American
  • Phil Steele First-Team All-American
  • Walter Camp First-Team All-American
  • Lott Trophy Watch List


Omarr Norman-Lott – Senior Defensive Tackle

  • Phil Steele Third-Team All-SEC


Special Teams

Jackson Ross – Sophomore Punter

  • Phil Steele Fourth-Team All-SEC


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