How Long Before Tennessee Volunteers Return to Prominence?

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It’s been a long, brutal fall from grace for the Tennessee Volunteers.

But there’s been enough talk on that over the past six years. Second-year Coach Butch Jones has Rocky Top excited for a very bright future, despite going 5-7 last year, thanks to his superb recruiting skills.

But any turnaround seen this year will have to be in the form of a Rugrats show. Tennessee certainly has the youngest team in the SEC this year and possibly the youngest in college football.

A senior quarterback and a senior middle linebacker are two key positions that will help offset the youth, however slightly, but everywhere else you look, Jones will be plugging in a sophomore and very possibly a freshmen to fill the void. He’s already stated that he likes how eager and hungry the young guys are, and he’s also given the upperclassmen lots of credit for their leadership. This also bodes well for the future, especially when you take into account Tennessee’s recruiting for next year.

Apr 12, 2014; Knoxville, TN, USA; Tennessee Volunteers head coach Butch Jones runs onto the field during the orange and white spring game at Neyland Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Randy Sartin-USA TODAY Sports

But leading a bunch of diaper dandies through a ridiculous SEC schedule that includes Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Missouri, Ole Miss, at Vanderbilt, and South Carolina plus a non-conference game at powerhouse Oklahoma and an opening game against a very good mid-major team in Utah State could be nearly a death sentence. It would be like Mel Gibson leading a bunch of children behind him in “Braveheart.”

The good news is there’s talent in this youth. Lots and lots of talent. Talent good enough to steal a few upsets against the brutal schedule the Vols face. Remember last year, in his first year with a very young and less talented team, Jones’s Vols scored an upset win against South Carolina and very nearly beat Georgia.

But is that enough to say Tennessee will get back to a bowl game? Possibly. And it might be enough to end a few streaks. It all depends on how fast some of the youngsters progress, particularly in the trenches. Continue to Next Slide for Offense

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