The Volunteer State

The Volunteer State

The Volunteer State is a Tennessee Vols sports podcast covering sports topics from the University of Tennessee featuring The Knoxville News Sentinel's John Adams, Mike Wilson and Blake Toppmeyer. The Tennessean, Nashville Tennessee.

Episodes

August 11, 2022 29 min

Tennessee received the thirst-most voting points of teams not in the top 25, meaning the Vols would be ranked No. 28 if the rankings extended that far.

Why did Tennessee not receive more love?

That's the headline topic on this edition of "The Volunteer State," featuring Blake Toppmeyer of the USA TODAY Network and the News Sentinel's Adam Sparks and John Adams.

Stay connected on Twitter with Blake (@btoppmeyer) ...

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The Vols are a proven offensive force and return much of the firepower from last season's seven-win team in Josh Heupel's debut season.

Peel back the layers, though, and the Vols have areas of concern that must be addressed if they're to catapult past the bar they set last season.

On this edition of "The Volunteer State," Blake Toppmeyer of the USA TODAY Network and the News Sentinel's Adam Sparks and John A...

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A finish line finally is in sight for the NCAA's investigation into Tennessee football for recruiting malfeasance that occurred under former coach Jeremy Pruitt, and despite the NCAA levying allegations of 18 Level I violations, the Vols actually got some good news.

The Vols do not face a lack of institutional control allegation but instead are charged with a failure to monitor, which is a lesser violation in the NCAA's ter...

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Tennessee's 2023 class has 18 commitments following the pledge of five-star defensive end Chandavian Bradley on Sunday. Bradley joins quarterback Nico Iamaleava as national top-50 prospects in UT's class. 

The Vols' class is ranked No. 5 overall in the 247Sports Composite, behind Ohio State, Notre Dame, Clemson and Texas.

On this edition of "The Volunteer State," Blake Toppmeyer of the USA TODAY Network and the ...

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Tennessee thrived after the SEC grew from 10 to 12 teams, but since then, it's been slipping down the totem pole.

The Big Ten's seizure of Southern Cal and UCLA threatens to kick off another round of realignment and expansion, and while the SEC likely will be choosy about how it proceeds, history tells us that the conference will be open to smart expansion opportunities.

On this edition of "The Volunteer State," Bla...

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Tennessee football is well-positioned for the future under coach Josh Heupel – at least according to the coach Heupel replaced.

Jeremy Pruitt believes in Heupel's Vols, so much so that he labeled Tennessee and Kentucky as his two breakout teams in the SEC for the 2022 season during a recent appearance on the "Crain & Company" podcast.

On this edition of "The Volunteer State," Blake Toppmeyer of the USA TODAY...

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What's the next stop in Tennessee's ascent under Josh Heupel? A top-20 season, according to one prognostication.

Athlon, in its recent projections, projects the Vols to finish the 2022 season ranked No. 18 nationally.

On this edition of "The Volunteer State," Blake Toppmeyer of the USA TODAY Network and the News Sentinel's John Adams debate whether Athlon's projection for Tennessee is too high, too low or sp...

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Gone is Tennessee football's scheduled road game against BYU in 2023. In its place is a game against Virginia in Nashville.

Why? Athletics director Danny White offered two reasons: The switch is better for Tennessee financially, and it offers an opportunity to play a game in Nashville.

Here's a reason left unsaid: It helps UT avoid a potential loss.

On this edition of "The Volunteer State," hosts Blake Toppmeyer, Ad...

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Jay Graham has coached at 10 colleges over the past 16 years, most notably Tennessee (2005, 2012, 2020), South Carolina (2009-11), Florida State (2013-17), Texas A&M (2018-19) and Alabama (2021).

Now he's building the Concord Christian School football program — first at middle school and eventually high school. 

On this edition of “The Volunteer State,” Blake Toppmeyer of the USA TODAY Network and Adam Sparks of Knox News d...

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Throughout the Tennessee baseball team’s success last season, many Vols fans carried a back-of-the mind concern.

Would coach Tony Vitello parlay the Vols’ success into another marquee job?

On this edition of “The Volunteer State,” Blake Toppmeyer of the USA TODAY Network and the News Sentinel’s Mike Wilson dissect Tennessee baseball’s success, its national championship chances and the prospect of Vitello remaining in Knoxville for ...

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The Vols are projected to have to have four players selected in the NFL Draft, which begins Thursday (8 p.m. ET; ABC, ESPN, NFL Network).

Defensive lineman Matthew Butler, cornerback Alontae Taylor, wide receiver Velus Jones Jr., and offensive lineman Cade Mays are expected to be mid- to late-round picks. Tennessee likely won't have any players selected in either of the first two rounds. 

On this edition of "The Volunteer S...

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Tennessee's schedule offers an opportunity for a big season that could produce a trip to a Florida bowl – heck, maybe even the Sugar Bowl – if everything falls in the Vols' direction. 

Beating rivals Alabama or Georgia will take a herculean effort, but the Vols might enjoy a leg up on Florida and LSU, which are breaking in new coaches. 

On this edition of "The Volunteer State," Blake Toppmeyer of the USA TODAY Netwo...

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Joe Milton opened last season as UT's starter but struggled in the role. He lost the job by Week 3. However, he showed progress this spring, including a robust performance in the scrimmage. 

On this edition of "The Volunteer State," Blake Toppmeyer of the USA TODAY Network and the News Sentinel's Adam Sparks discuss what Milton's spring showing means for his 2022 season.

Stay connected on Twitter with Blake (...

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Tennessee football doesn't lack for rivals, but most of its top rivalries lack sizzle because of competitive imbalance.

If there's room for another rival, how about Ole Miss? As long as Lane Kiffin is in Oxford, the Rebels will be a marquee opponent for UT. Just one problem: In the SEC's current scheduling format, the teams don't play often enough, but that should change after the conference expands.

On this edition...

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Tennessee is coming off a winning season, has a competent coach and is positioned to sign a five-star quarterback for the first time since 2002 after Monday's commitment from Nico Iamaleava.

The Vols still must prove they're capable of climbing the SEC East's ladder, but UT is displaying undeniable signs of progress.

On this edition of "The Volunteer State," Blake Toppmeyer of the USA TODAY Network and the News ...

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Tennessee's up-tempo offense poses problems for opposing defenses, so much so that some opponents attracted suspicion of faking injuries last season.

The NCAA football rules committee could not agree on proposed rule changes to stop the tactic, so, presumably, it will continue this season.

On this edition of "The Volunteer State," Blake Toppmeyer of the USA TODAY Network and the News Sentinel's Adam Sparks and John ...

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Tennessee last signed a national top-10 recruiting class in 2015. Coach Josh Heupel is coming off a solid debut season, and now the key to climbing the SEC ladder will be elevating the Vols’ recruiting.

Jeremy Pruitt flirted with top-10 classes in 2019 and again in 2020, but it was Butch Jones who last led the Vols into the top 10 of the 247Sports Composite.

On this edition of “The Volunteer State,” Blake Toppmeyer of the USA TODAY...

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We don't know what the SEC alignment will look like beginning with the 2025 season. We just know change is coming once Oklahoma and Texas join the conference.

SEC Commissioner Greg Sankey said earlier this year that debate is ongoing about how the conference will be aligned after those two schools join from the Big 12.

One option would be to align in two eight-team divisions and play seven division games, plus two interdivision...

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The busiest portion of the college football offseason is complete.

The winter brought the coaching carousel, an active transfer market and the final recruiting swing.

Now that this stage of the offseason is complete, let's bust out the red pens to do some grading of how Tennessee fared.

On this edition of "The Volunteer State," Blake Toppmeyer of the USA TODAY Network and the News Sentinel's John Adams and Adam Spar...

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Despite a seven-win season in Josh Heupel's debut, a win total that surpassed most outsider expectations, Tennessee is not ranked in ESPN's early Top 25 for the 2022 season.

Seven SEC teams are ranked by ESPN: No. 1 Alabama, No. 3 Georgia, No. 4 Texas A&M, No. 20 Arkansas, No. 21 Kentucky, No. 23 Ole Miss and No. 25 South Carolina.

On this edition of "The Volunteer State," Blake Toppmeyer of the USA TODAY Networ...

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