Vols picked third in East

The media types that cover Southeastern Conference football believe Tennessee will be better in 2006 than it was in 2005 but still not good enough to overtake Florida and Georgia in the Eastern Division race.

A whopping 104 reporters and broadcasters participating in SEC Media Days at Birmingham overwhelmingly picked Auburn to win the SEC title, tabbing the Tigers on 73 ballots. Florida was second with 11 votes. Interestingly enough, two media types predicted Tennessee to win the league title.

Auburn is picked to win the Western Division, with LSU second, Alabama third, Arkansas fourth, Ole Miss fifth and Mississippi State sixth. Florida is the choice in the East, slightly ahead of second-place Georgia. Tennessee is third, followed by South Carolina, Kentucky and Vanderbilt.

Two Vols were accorded first-team All-SEC recognition – offensive tackle Arron Sears and defensive tackle Justin Harrell. Sears was listed on 95 ballots. Only Ole Miss linebacker Patrick Willis (98) showed up on more ballots. South Carolina wideout Sidney Rice was third, showing up on 94 ballots.

Vol tailback Arian Foster and defensive back Jonathan Hefney were second-team preseason All-SEC picks, along with place-kicker James Wilhoit. Jonathan Wade was a third-team selection as a defensive back.

Auburn had 12 players picked first-, second- or third-team All-SEC. Georgia and LSU had 10 each, Arkansas and Florida eight each. Alabama had seven and UT six.

Fans might not want to put too much stock in these predictions. After all, the SEC Media Days crew picked Tennessee to win the conference title last season and the Vols struggled home 5-6.

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