Will flights be able to go from the Music City Bowl to the Sugar Bowl in 22?
It’s in the realm of reason after the quarterback Hendon Hooker announced on Sunday that he will return to UT for a sixth season of college eligibility in 2022.
If you don’t believe us, watch Ole Miss’s success this season. The Rebels laid the groundwork in 2020 by going 5-5 in Lane Kiffin’s first season. The return of quarterback Matt Corral promised better times to come in 2021.
Better times, indeed.
Corral became one of the nation’s best quarterbacks in Kiffin’s quick and friendly offense. During this time, the rebel defense improved to the point of respectability. Add in a manageable schedule, and Ole Miss is 10-2 and heads to the Sugar Bowl to take on Baylor.
On this edition of “The voluntary state, ” Blake Toppmeyer USA TODAY network and News Sentinel John adams and Adam sparks debate whether Hooker’s return positions Tennessee to emulate the second-year wave of rebels.
Alabama and Georgia will pose big challenges in 2022, but Tennessee’s schedule is otherwise manageable, including non-conference games against Ball State, Pittsburgh, Akron and UT-Martin.
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When Toppmeyer launches the idea of a Sugar Bowl rise next season, neither Adams nor Sparks are pushing back on the idea, although both co-hosts believe a 9-3 finish just short of the Sugar Bowl stratosphere. is more realistic.
As Sparks says, Hooker’s return offers a head start, UT still have to deal with the running back and the offensive line, while working to improve their defense even further.
Tennessee’s Recruiting Class of 2022 ranks 18th in the 247Sports Composite and primarily consists of three-star talent. The December signing period begins on Wednesday.
Later in the episode
- Sparks discusses her story of how Tennessee failed to take advantage of a recruiting class of 2022 who was packed with talent. Sparks says the success of interim recruiting matters and UT needs to better secure interim talent, but he thinks the importance of “locking the borders” may be slightly overstated.
- As Toppmeyer wrote in a column this week, the transfer portal and the NCAA rule change allowing immediate transfer eligibility lessens the need for Tennessee to sign and develop three- or four-star quarterbacks. As Hooker has shown, bringing in quality quarterback transfers is a tempting option unless Tennessee can reverse their long-standing trend of not signing a five-star quarterback. UT has not signed a five-star QB since 2002. Adams goes even further. He says UT shouldn’t bother signing a three- or four-star QB prospect. Simply load the transfers.
Where to listen to The Volunteer State
Blake Toppmeyer is SEC Columnist for the USA TODAY Network. John adams is a senior columnist for the Knoxville News Sentinel. Adam sparks is the Tennessee football rhythm writer for the News Sentinel. If you like their coverage, to consider a digital subscription which will allow you to access it all. You can also subscribe to The voluntary state Podcast for free so you don’t miss an episode, or check out Unfiltered SEC Football, another podcast from Toppmeyer and Adams.