Media voters are giving some respect to the Tennessee football Volunteers.
With its new schedule, Tennessee football will have a hard time repeating where it finished last year in the SEC East. However, official projections are now expressing confidence in them to do just that.
On Wednesday, media projections for the conference had Rocky Top coming in third in its division. The Florida Gators were picked to finish first with 53 first place votes, and the Georgia Bulldogs were picked to come in second with 43 first place votes.
Only Florida and Georgia received first-place votes. Tennessee football was picked barely ahead of the Kentucky Wildcats, finishing with 434 points to UK’s 405 points. Behind them were the South Carolina Gamecocks, the Missouri Tigers, and in last place, the Vanderbilt Commodores.
In addition to its projected third place finish, Tennessee football had five preseason All-SEC players. The Vols had the same players who made Coaches All-SEC: Trey Smith, Brent Cimaglia, Wanya Morris, Henry To’o To’o and Bryce Thompson. Smith and Cimaglia were first team, To’o To’o was second team, and Morris and Thompson were third team.
The Alabama Crimson Tide were picked to win the SEC West, receiving 86 of 96 first place votes. Behind them, the LSU Tigers came in at second and received eight first place votes. Although they received no first place votes, the Auburn Tigers came in third, and the Texas A&M Aggies came in fourth with two first place votes.
Tied for fifth in the West were the Ole Miss Rebels and Mississippi State Bulldogs, and the Arkansas Razorbacks came in seventh. Alabama was picked to win the championship with 77 votes. Georgia and LSU each had seven votes, though, and Florida had five.
Obviously, Tennessee football has an uphill climb trying to win the SEC East. However, despite numerous projections for UK and even South Carolina across the nation to finish ahead of them among outlets, it looks like league voters expect them to be the barrier between Florida and Georgia and then the rest of the division.