Top 50 teams of 2019: No. 46 Tennessee


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Before the start of Illinois football's training camp on Aug. 2 in Champaign, beat writer Bob Asmussen is counting down the Top 50 teams heading into the 2019 college football season:

No. 46: Tennessee

Coach: Jeremy Pruitt

2018 record: 5-7

Projected 2019 record: 8-4

Circle the date: Oct. 19 at Alabama

Bowl trip: Birmingham

Why No. 46: The Vols got off to a rough start in Pruitt's first season. They might want to put some of the blame on previous coach Butch Jones. Pruitt's guys showed promise with late wins against Kentucky and Auburn. .. Jarrett Guarantano returns at quarterback and gets a new offensive coordinator, Jim Chaney. ... Guarantano works behind an offensive line with four new starters. ... Tim Jordan and Ty Chandler form a solid duo at running back. ... Receivers Jauan Jennings and Marquez Callaway both caught at least 30 passes last season. ... The strength of the defense is at linebacker, led by Darrell Taylor, who had eight sacks. ...The kicking game is in good shape with the return of Brent Cimaglia, who hit 10 of 13 field goal tries. ... The Vols should be able to sweep nonconference games against Georgia State, BYU and Chattanooga. But the start of the conference schedule is nasty with games against Florida, Georgia, Mississippi State and Alabama. Yikes.

Last year's ranking: NR