ESPN released their top 50 college football players for 2018 on Monday morning, with no Tennessee players in sight. Ignoring the Trey Smith snub, Volunteer fans might want to browse the entire list to get a good glimpse of what exactly the team will be going up against this season.
The article claims that it is not just ranking players based on what they’ve done up to that point—it’s also projecting which players will excel in 2018 and justify their placement on the list. Unfortunately for Tennessee, all of their eventual opponents fell into the “proven” category.
At last count, Tennessee will face 13 of the 50 names listed in the article. Here they are from highest ranking to lowest ranking.
3. Will Grier - West Virginia QB
10. Jarrett Stidham - Auburn QB
11. Tua Tagovailoa - Alabama QB
13. Damien Harris - Alabama RB
17. Raekwon Davis - Alabama DL
18. David Sills V - West Virginia WR
30. Jake Fromm - Georgia QB
31. Jonah Williams - Alabama OL
33. D’Andre Swift - Georgia RB
35. Drew Lock - Missouri QB
41. Derrick Brown - Auburn DL
47. Deebo Samuel - South Carolina WR
49. Mack Wilson - Alabama LB
The obvious conclusion is that any team on Alabama’s schedule will already face five of the top 50 players. Tennessee manages to add to that with two from West Virginia, two from Georgia, two from Auburn, one from Missouri, and one from South Carolina. The joys of playing in the SEC and having a tough non-conference opener.
Perhaps the most frightening reality is the number of quarterbacks that appear. This isn’t surprising to those familiar with the schedule, but facing three potential top 20 quarterbacks and two more in the top 40 is a daunting task regardless of the defensive expectations. Much less when Tennessee’s secondary is viewed as the weakest part of the team.
It seems that only LSU will face more top 50 players (15).