Tennessee Football gets some more national respect as they were ranked in the top-ten in ESPN’s “Defensive Line U” rankings.
When you think of dominant players in Tennessee football history, you might end up thinking of a few defensive linemen. From Reggie White to Derek Barnett, Tennessee has had some great athletes on the defensive line.
ESPN writer David Hale has been going through his “Position U” rankings where they rank the best college football programs when it comes to producing top talent in each position group. Tennessee was mostly absent from the rankings except for the defensive line rankings.
The Vols barely made the cut and came in at No. 9 in the rankings and beat out Florida, who came in at No. 10. Florida State topped the list at No. 1 with Alabama, Ohio State, Clemson, Penn State, LSU, Texas, and USC ranking from second to eighth.
The criteria for their decisions were a bit different this year as they focused on the BCS era and effectively eliminated everything before that.
"“First, we limited our scope to only seasons from 1998 on — the BCS era forward,” Hale wrote. “Second, we wanted to measure both quantity and quality, so rather than just a tally of NFL players from each school, we leveraged Pro Football Reference data to weight our findings based on draft round and average NFL value during their first four seasons. (Beyond four years, the value of the college’s contribution is far outweighed by NFL development.) Lastly, we wanted to include college performance too, so we gave additional points for all-conference and All-America awards.”"
With these standards being set, it doesn’t give Tennessee a fair shake, with most of their success coming before 2000. There have been some good seasons here and there with the occasional elite player, but for the most part, Tennessee has struggled to be successful for the past two decades.
With Jeremy Pruitt continuing to build up the Tennessee football program, I’m not too worried about the Vols dropping out of this ranking. Could they eventually drop out of the top-ten? Sure, but I don’t think they’ll be gone for long if they do.
Pruitt’s elite defensive mind is setting Tennessee up for success, and with that, will come more elite players at every position group to give the Vols a boost in rankings like these.