This could be a make-or-break year for Butch Jones. The Vols have yet to win 10 games during the Jones era — even though UT routinely ranks amongst the best in the nation annually when it comes to recruiting.
The overall amount of talent on this squad is perhaps the best of any school in the conference not named Alabama. In any case, Tennessee hasn’t won 10 games in a season since 2007. The quarterback position is an on-going battle between Quinten Dormady and Jarrett Guarantano (with the former potentially holding a slight edge). Should Tennessee not win the SEC East this season, it could signal the end of the Jones tenure.
14. Oklahoma State
The trio of QB Mason Rudolph, WR James Washington, and RB Justice Hill makes the Cowboys a viable threat to win the Big 12. Rudolph had a TD-INT ration of 28-to-4 a season ago — making him one of the most efficient and accurate signal-callers in the country. Hill and Washington both accrued over 1,000 yards when it came to rushing (1,142) and receiving (1,380).
OSU also benefits from the additions of three transfers from major schools in WR Tyron Johnson (LSU), OT Aaron Cochran (Cal), and DB Adrian Baker (Clemson). This could be the best Cowboys’ team since 2011 — when the Pokes last won the Big 12. The schedule is tough — with a four-game stretch including a home game versus Baylor, back-to-back away games versus Texas and West Virginia, and a clash in Stillwater versus fierce in-state rival Oklahoma.
Kirby Smart has hit the ground running since taking over in Athens — placing a massive emphasis on recruiting. Georgia’s collective talent-level has increased. However, much of the roster is inexperienced. It could be a year (or two) until the Bulldogs contend for an SEC title.
When looking at this season, Georgia will rely upon its deep backfield featuring Nick Chubb and Sony Michel. Sophomore QB Jacob Eason returns after a relatively successful freshman campaign. He’s got all of the tools needed to become a big-time player — though Eason must become more consistent. Georgia is likely the favorite to win the SEC East in 2017. The schedule features difficult road games at Notre Dame, Tennessee, Georgia Tech, and Auburn.
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