TSN likes Vol LBs, kickers

The good news: Tennessee's football team will be exceptionally strong this year in the kicking game and at linebacker.

The bad news: The Vols look to be average, or worse, in every other area.

In its College Football preview issue, The Sporting News tabs Dustin Colquitt No. 1 among college punters and rates James Wilhoit No. 8 among placekickers. Additionally, TSN rates Kevin Simon No. 4 nationally among middle linebackers, Kevin Burnett No. 5 among outside linebackers and the Vols' overall linebacking corps (including reserves) No. 3 nationally. Only Virginia and Ohio State are ranked ahead of Tennessee at the linebacker position.

Beyond that, the Vols don't get a whole lot of respect.

Cedric Houston is ranked No. 20 nationally among running backs and Jason Respert is listed No. 11 at center. No other offensive players are ranked among the top 20 nationally at their positions. Oddly enough, Michael Munoz -- soon to be a four-year starter and two-year captain -- is not listed among the top 20 offensive tackles.

Defensively, Tennessee's talent is rated a little higher. In addition to Simon and Burnett, Jason Allen is ranked No. 10 among cornerbacks and Parys Haralson is rated No. 17 among defensive ends.

Interestingly enough, SEC favorite Georgia is viewed as being very strong across the board. TSN rates the Bulldogs as having the No. 3 offensive backfield in the NCAA, the No. 3 receiving corps, the No. 6 offensive line, the No. 1 defensive line, the No. 5 linebacking corps and the No. 5 secondary.

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