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More Phil Steele on Tennessee: unit and team rankings

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Our beloved Phil Steele has Tennessee's various units ranked as follows:

  • Offensive line: 3. 62 starts returning, 4th highest in the nation.
  • Wide receivers : 7.
  • Defensive backs: 15.
  • Special teams: 16.
  • Running backs: 18.
  • Defensive line: 30.
  • Linebackers: 30.
  • Quarterbacks: unranked.

There's no reason to rank Jonathan Crompton yet, but remember that he was the No. 2 Pro-Style QB in the nation in 2005 behind USC's Mark Sanchez. USC offered Crompton, too, but he turned them down. He's going to be better than Ainge, and he'll have much better chemistry with the team. If he's the weak link on offense, we're in good shape.

On to the national team rankings:

Tennessee is ranked 23rd in the nation. Florida is No. 1, Georgia is No. 9, Auburn is No. 12, LSU is No. 13, and Steve Spurrier is No. 18. Alabama is No. 26. That's three SEC East teams in the Top 20 (and puts us fourth in the East) and three SEC West teams in the Top 26, two of which are on our schedule. Auburn and Steve Spurrier are Steele's #4 and #7 Surprise Teams respectively. No wonder Steele says the SEC is the toughest conference in the nation.

So even though the Vols' offensive line is ranked 3rd, seven of our eight units are in Steele's Top 30 rankings, second-best VHT QB recruit Crompton is the weakest link on offense, and even though Steele himself has the Vols #16 in his Power Poll, we're ranked 23rd due to our brutal schedule.

Steele thinks we could go 3-3 to begin the season yet finish well, which would put us in the Liberty Bowl against Tulsa. Nice. The Liberty Bowl has featured teams like Mississippi State, UCF, Steve Spurrier, Houston, Tulsa, Fresno State, Louisville, Boise State, Utah, Southern Miss, TCU, and Colorado State.

What do y'all think?