UT loaded at WR, DB

The strongest area of Tennessee's offense is its assortment of pass catchers; the strongest area of Tennessee defense is its assortment of pass defenders.

That's evident just from scanning the depth chart, which shows the top six wide receivers and six of the top seven defensive backs returning from 2007. There's quality as well as quantity, though, thanks to the availability of Lucas Taylor, who compiled 1,000 receiving yards last fall, and safety Eric Berry, who started all 14 games as a freshman and clearly is destined for greatness.

Tennessee's strength at the wideout and defensive back positions is so obvious that the folks at Lindy's even noticed it. In their annual College Football Preview they rank Tennessee's receiver corps seventh nationally and the Vol secondary troops sixth nationally.

Interestingly enough, Tennessee is not the highest-ranked SEC team in either category. Florida is ranked No. 6 among receiver corps, while both South Carolina (No. 3) and Mississippi State (No. 5) are rated higher than the Vols in terms of secondary talent.

Lindy's top 10 receiver corps, in order, are:

1. Missouri

2. Texas Tech

3. Tulsa

4. Ohio State

5. Rutgers

6. Florida

7. Tennessee

8. Clemson

9. Arizona

10. Ball State

Here's what the magazine has to say about the Big Orange wideout brigade:

"Lucas Taylor, Josh Briscoe and Austin rogers combined to catch 185 passes last season, and a deep rotation includes talented athletes Gerald Jones and Denarius Moore."

Lindy's top 10 secondary groups, in order, are:

1. Southern Cal

2. Ohio State

3. South Carolina

4. Oregon

5. Mississippi State

6. Tennessee's

7. Rutgers

8. Oregon State

9. Cincinnati

10. Arizona State

Here's what Lindy's has to say about the Vol secondary:

"This will be one of the most improved secondaries in the country, boosted by the return of athletic safety Demetrice Morley (academics) and cornerback Antonio Gaines (injury). They'll be sidekicks to sophomore safety Eric Berry, who picked off five interceptions and returned them 222 yards last year."

Tennessee's blocking front is not ranked among the top 10 offensive lines, even though the Vols return four starters from a unit that allowed an NCAA-best four sacks last season. Also, Daniel Lincoln is not ranked among the top 10 kickers, even though he earned All-America honors from the Football Writers Association of America as a freshman last season after nailing 21 of 29 field-goal tries.


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