Other SEC schools (AP Poll): Alabama (2), LSU (13), Florida (14), Auburn (24)
The Volunteers fell short of most preseason expectations of a SEC East title in 2016, but coach Butch Jones has still pieced together back-to-back nine-win seasons. In order for Tennessee to edge Florida and Georgia in the East next year, this team has to navigate a schedule that features games at Alabama and Florida, while LSU and Georgia visit Neyland Stadium. Additionally, the Volunteers will have a new play-caller on offense and a quarterback battle this offseason between Quinten Dormady and Jarrett Guarantano. The offensive line returns mostly intact, and John Kelly is a player to watch at running back with Alvin Kamara off to the NFL. Injuries hit Tennessee’s defense hard in 2016, and this unit loses two standouts in end Derek Barnett and cornerback Cam Sutton. Considering all of the injuries this team dealt with on defense, the playing time by backups and new starters should improve the overall depth for this unit in 2017. Linebacker Darrin Kirkland should be the leader of the front seven for coordinator Bob Shoop. — Athlon
Rock Gullickson’s salary revealed
Tennessee’s new Director of Strength and Conditioning, Rock Gullickson, signed a two-year contract worth $375,000 annually, according to UT. That would make him the 7th-highest paid strength coach in the nation, based on 2016 numbers.
— Patrick Brown (@patrickbrownTFP) January 11, 2017