Tennessee football surprisingly deep on outlet’s 2022 preseason All-SEC teams

If you were to measure teams based on a combination of talent at the top and depth, looking at how many players they have on a four-deep all-conference roster is a good start. In that case, Tennessee football is looking much better than one might expect.

The Vols have 10 players total on Steve Lassan of Athlon’s four preseason All-SEC teams that were released Monday. They had two first-teamers, two second-teamers, three third-teamers and three fourth-teamers.

There were 128 All-SEC players overall on the list, but Tennessee football’s 10 was the fourth most individually, behind the Alabama Crimson Tide, Texas A&M Aggies and Georgia Bulldogs. Yes, they were better than the other 10 SEC schools.

More importantly, it’s not like they just loaded up with fourth-teamers either. The Vols were tied with the Auburn Tigers for the fourth most first team selections with two, and they remained tied for fourth when you added second and third team selections. Fourth team selections put UT over Auburn to No. 4 alone.

That means those selections were a tiebreaker. By any metric you would use to determine who had the best All-SEC showing, whether you more heavily weigh raw numbers or more heavily weigh how high up on the teams players were, the Vols would be in fourth.

Leading the charge for UT were Cedric Tillman and Byron Young, who were both First Team. Hendon Hooker came in at Second Team, so factoring in importance of position, having your quarterback that high speaks volumes alone. Jeremy Banks joined Hooker on that team.

Jerome Carvin, Tyler Baron and Paxton Brooks made Third Team, and Jabari Small, Darnell Wright and Paxton Brooks made Fourth Team. That adds up to five offensive players, four defensive players and one special teams player.

Baron and Banks were the shocking ones on this list. That’s because Young’s emergence somewhat pushed Baron down Tennessee football’s depth chart last year. Meanwhile, despite his raw production and the stats he racked up, Banks had a PFF regular season grade below 60.

Everybody else makes sense, particularly Tillman, Young and Hooker. They all belong where they are. You could make a case for Hooker as First Team All-SEC, but when Heisman Trophy winner Bryce Young is back, it’s hard to put Hooker above him.

Young is an intriguing case since this will be his first full season playing. What he did last year despite not playing until the third game and not starting until two weeks later is likely why Lassan is so high on him. Tillman, meanwhile, went for over 1,000 yards receiving and is back, so his production speaks for itself.

Carvin, Wright and Flowers are on here for experience and potential. Taking all this into account, here is more reason to be excited about Tennessee football heading into the year. All signs point to only Alabama and Georgia being better than them among the teams they will face, so yes, 10 or 11 wins is on the table.