Athlon picks UT third in East

The folks at Athlon pick Tennessee's football team to finish third in the SEC East and 24th nationally this fall, yet mention the Vols as national title conteners.

In its annual Southeastern College Football edition, Athlon has this to say about the Big Orange under the heading Post-Spring Analysis:

''Casey Clausen has the talent to win a national championship, but the Vols lack the gamebreaking receivers they've had in the past. Tennessee's hoping one of the three incoming All-America receivers, Bret Smith, Jayson Swain or Robert Meachem, will emerge quickly. Defensively, the Vols look as stubborn as ever. The front four is green, but the linebacking corps is loaded with speed and talent. Tennessee's a cornerback short of having an exceptional secondary. There won't be any changes in philosophy: balanced offense, aggressive defense, solid kicking game. It's the formula Phillip Fulmer has used to win a national title and post the SEC's best record over the past five years (49-14). This year's travels could be bumpy; the schedule includes trips to Auburn, Alabama, Florida and Miami.''

Athlon's Southeastern College Football edition is on newsstands now at a cost of $6.99.

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