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College Football: Tennessee named 2017’s biggest underachiever

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Thanks, Butch.

NCAA Football: Tennessee at Alabama John David Mercer-USA TODAY Sports

In a conclusion that will shock literally nobody reading this, the Tennessee Volunteers were named the biggest underachievers of 2017 by SBNation. Butch Jones was tasked with replacing Josh Dobbs, Alvin Kamara, Derek Barnett, Jalen Reeves-Maybin, Cameron Sutton and Josh Malone.

It did not go well.

The bottom fell out. Tennessee never found a quarterback or a consistent pass rusher. For the first time ever, the Vols ended up winless in SEC play. Butch Jones was fired after a blowout loss to Missouri.

So our friends at the mothership (SBNation.com) put this piece together, which ranked the underachievers and overachievers of college football. They took recruiting rankings from the past four years and put them up against final records.

The result placed Tennessee as the biggest underachiever of 2017. Here’s the quote.

1. Tennessee (8th in recruiting, 107th in S&P+, 4-8). The Vols were terrible and fired Butch Jones with two games left in the season, despite Jones signing national championship-caliber talent. It takes something special to be as bad as Tennessee was after spending almost half a decade recruiting with the big dogs.

This paints a pretty ugly picture for Butch Jones and his staff. Between some development issues, injuries and departures, we never really saw the payoff of those top classes. 2015 and 2016 was pretty clearly the window, but Tennessee dropped too many close games to win big.

2017 was a different story. Butch’s window closed when all of those key players left. Quarterback issues really handicapped them, but they just didn’t have enough talent in the trenches to truly compete with top teams. Guys like Kahlil McKenzie, Jonathan Kongbo and Quinten Dormady just never took that next step. The injuries didn’t help either.

The talent well in Knoxville isn’t totally dry for 2018, but there are some key needs left to fill. It will be interesting to see what a new staff can accomplish in year one with guys like Jauan Jennings, Marquez Callaway, Ty Chandler, Nigel Warrior, Daniel Bituli among others set to return.