To get an idea as to who the top teams are in the country's top league, simply look at the first rounds of the NFL Draft each April to see the linemen selected.
If Tennessee wants to get its program back to the top, it will have to start filling its roster with talented players who put their hand on the ground. To complicate things, the Volunteers are slated to graduate six defensive linemen after the 2013 season.
The Land of Lincoln may lend itself to the Vols' rescue by providing an athletic defensive end in the Class of 2014 as Dewayne Hendrix has expressed interest.
"I noticed that it was always such a good program, and my uncle (Robert Joy) talks so much about them," Hendrix told InsideTennessee. "Then, I got a chance to go down there and see a lot of the games. I've just loved the program ever since I was a kid."
The 6-foot-5, 230-pounder doesn't have eyes for the Orange & White because of players like Leonard Little or Reggie White.
"The team, basically. I just really like the team," said Hendrix, who was born in Memphis.
Jadeveon Clowney is a player Hendrix said he admires. The top 2013 player in Illinois, five-star wide receiver Laquon Treadwell, chose a career in the Southeastern Conference over offers from numerous schools closer to home by signing with Ole Miss.
Hendrix is up for the challenge of playing in the SEC if he finds a school as the right fit.
"I would love to be in the SEC; that would be nice. That would mean a lot," he said.
Tennessee has already issued offers to other 2014s in Illinois like Chatham tight end Daniel Helm along with Chicago-based players such as wide receiver Nic Weishar and teammates offensive lineman Jamarco Jones and running back Mikale Wilbon.
Coach Butch Jones and his staff plan on holding between 8-10 junior days this calendar year with one of the premier events taking place this weekend and it is invite-only. Hendrix was pegged to join the group that includes four-stars like Jalen Hurd and D.J. Smith, and the D-end told FOX Sports NEXT he's making the trip down from O'Fallon.
Hendrix said he isn't sure yet on graduating early but plans to major in Criminal Justice.