Attention all Tennessee football fans. Are you buying all the hype surrounding head coach Josh Heupel and the upcoming 2022 season? Don't bother answering me because I already know the answer. You are buying it and so am I. After four unsuccessful hires in a 12-year span in Knoxville, we were all apprehensive about Athletic Director Danny White's hiring of his head coach from Central Florida. However, Heupel's streak of wins at the end of the 2021 campaign as well as a trip to a bowl game excited all of us.
Everything seems to be falling in place for the Volunteers to have the most successful season since Phillip Fulmer was head coach more than a decade ago.
Quarterback Hendon Hooker decided to forego the NFL draft and return for his final year at Tennessee. A couple of solid recruiting classes plus some players coming from the transfer portal have breathed new life into the Volunteers program. Some pundits are predicting Tennessee to challenge Georgia for the SEC East title. I don't think I'll go that far yet but other than the Bulldogs, Tennessee is as good as any team in the East.
As we look back at the 2021 season, nobody really knew what to expect. We all knew that Coach Heupel would play a fast-paced offense and, after trying Michigan transfer quarterback Joe Milton, Heupel placed Hooker in the starting role and things began to take off. Junior receiver Cedric Tillman also decided to return for his senior season giving the Big Orange one of the top passing duos in the country.
There are also others who are buying into the "Heupel Hype." High school standouts are beginning to stand up and take notice as well as several unhappy college players at other schools. After all, the transfer portal has hurt the Volunteers several times in the past few seasons, so why not take advantage of it?
When the pre-season publications begin to come out in the next few weeks we shall see just how far-reaching this "Heupel Hype" is. The Vols are no doubt getting the attention of media folks all around the country and, while it remains to be seen just how good they will actually be this fall, this "Heupel Hype" is becoming very exciting.
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Randy Smith can be reached at email@example.com