A look around the SEC: 2022 Tennessee Football preview

There’s no question about it the excitement levels on Rocky Top have reached an all-time high as the Tennessee Volunteers get ready for the 2022 season. Coming off a bid in the 2021 Music City Bowl, with a roster filled with returning talent, the lofty expectations for the Volunteers are warranted and expected heading into a new season.

Over the years, the Volunteers have been close but have ended their efforts to return to glory heartbreakingly. However, Tennessee seems to have the right guy in charge in Josh Heupel, and the 2022 season could be the start of something special in Knoxville, Tennessee.

Hendon Hooker ( Tennessee Football)

Coming into the 2022 season, the Volunteers have seventeen returning starters from last season. Included in that list of seventeen; are crucial players, including Hendon Hooker, Jabari Smith, and Cedric Tillman on the offensive side of the ball. On defense, Omari Thomas, Jeremy Banks, and Trevon Flowers will be the focal points for the Volunteers in 2022.

Taking a deeper look at the Tennessee offensive unit, it’s easy to understand the hype surrounding this program heading into the new season.

Cedric Tillman ( Tennessee Football )

In particular, the duo of Hendon Hooker at quarterback and Cedric Tillman at wide receiver will likely be the difference-maker for the Volunteers this season. With those expectations comes a certain amount of chatter that Hendon Hooker could even be a Heisman Trophy long shot. A lot of craziness would have to happen this season for Hooker to be in the conversation for the Heisman Trophy, but the potential is certainly there.

Omari Thomas ( Tennessee Football )

On the defensive side of the ball, the Volunteers have three guys on the roster who are the heartbeat of this unit. Omari Thomas, Jeremy Banks, and Trevon Flowers are the three guys on this roster for 2022 that will give opposing offensive units nightmares. Last season, Jeremy Banks led the team in tackles with 128 tackles, and Josh Heupel will turn to him to provide veteran leadership to the Tennessee defense.

As far as Special Teams goes, Tennessee will be well off with two returning guys, Chase McGrath and Paxton Brooks, leading the charge into the 2022 season.

Overall, looking at this Tennessee team and looking at their schedule, the favors are in the way of the Volunteers to have a successful year two under Josh Heupel. Tennessee could start their season 4-0 before an early October road trip to Death Valley, where the Volunteers could be facing another undefeated LSU Tigers team. From there, Tennessee could lose two more games before finishing their season with a three stint with Missouri and two road trips to Missouri and Vanderbilt. Reasonably, 9-3 could be the ceiling for year two in the Josh Heupel era on Rocky Top.

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