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Tennessee picked to finish 5th in SEC East by media

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The results are in.

COLLEGE FOOTBALL: SEP 14 Chattanooga at Tennessee Photo by Bryan Lynn/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

SEC Media Days have come and passed, which means we’re now dangerously close to football season. We’ve got one more order of business to tend to from Hoover before moving on, however.

The SEC Media’s picks for the 2021 season are in. The annual poll taken among SEC media members in attendance is always a fun talking point to look back on during the season, so let’s dive in.

Alabama projected to win the SEC

Shocker, right? Nick Saban’s death machine rolls on, though it may have a bit of a different look this season with Bryce Young taking over for Mac Jones. The Crimson Tide will also be looking to replace production from DeVonta Smith and Jaylen Waddle, along with Najee Harris. Bill O’Brien takes over as the offensive play-caller for Steve Sarkisian, too.

Anyone worried that they won’t figure it out? Don’t get your hopes up. Change has been a constant within that program, but Nick Saban just keeps producing titles.

Georgia picked to win the East

Also not a surprise, Kirby Smart’s Georgia Bulldogs are the projected winner of the East. Georgia returns JT Daniels at quarterback, perhaps finally armed with enough firepower to hang with Alabama. Can they finally get over the hump? This is pretty clearly their best shot with the rest of the East reloading. It’s time for Kirby to get it done.

Florida was selected second in the East after losing plenty of talent to the NFL. The Gators will be breaking in new quarterback Emory Jones, while replacing Kadarius Toney and Kyle Pitts. Dan Mullen will probably figure things out, but there could be some growing pains here.

Kentucky landed third on the list as the Wildcats continue to benefit from the stability that Mark Stoops has brought. Can they make a push for second here? It’s possible.

Tennessee picked 5th in the East

The Volunteers landed at No. 5 in the East, beating out only Vanderbilt and South Carolina. Tennessee received 362 points in the poll, narrowly edging out the Gamecocks with 355. Josh Heupel brings his high-flying, uptempo attack north to Knoxville, where he will be the latest man to attempt a rebuild of the former powerhouse.

He enters year one without many expectations, but beating the teams Tennessee should annually beat — Vanderbilt, Missouri, Kentucky and South Carolina — would go a long way in kick-starting his time at Tennessee. Can he pull that off? It’s going to be a challenge as Tennessee will likely be favored in only two of those matchups.


Full Projections

EASTERN DIVISION

1. Georgia 923

2. Florida 784

3. Kentucky 624

4. Missouri 555

5. Tennessee 362

6. South Carolina 355

7. Vanderbilt 149

WESTERN DIVISION

1. Alabama 932

2. Texas A&M 760

3. LSU 633

4. Ole Miss 529

5. Auburn 440

6. Arkansas 241

7. Mississippi State 217

SEC CHAMPION (1st place votes)

Alabama (84)

Georgia (45)

Ole Miss (1)

Texas A&M (1)

Florida (1)

Kentucky (1)

South Carolina (1)

Tennessee players on All-SEC teams

Cade Mays — First team OL

Alontae Taylor — Third team DB

Paxton Brooks — Second team Punter