Expectations aren’t very high for Josh Heupel in his first year as the Tennessee Vols’ head coach.

This week, Rivals national recruiting columnist Mike Farrell predicted that Tennessee will go 4-8 in Heupel’s first season.

Not exactly an encouraging prediction.

CBS Sports isn’t feeling optimistic about the Vols in 2021, either. In their latest preseason rankings, CBS Sports has the Volunteers as the No. 68 overall team in the country.

Here are the teams just ahead of Tennessee and just behind them:

60. San Diego State
61. Arkansas
62. San Jose State
63. UAB
64. Toledo
65. Louisville
66. Texas Tech
67. Baylor
68. Tennessee
69. California
70. Marshall
71. Air Force
72. Houston
73. Wyoming
74. Michigan State
75. Tulane

What’s interesting here is Michigan State at No. 74. The Spartans are a team that’s just five years removed from an appearance in the College Football Playoff. That shows just how quickly things can go south for a program. But at the same time, all it takes is a few top 10-15 recruiting cycles to get a program back on track.

The Vols are a program that will always be 3-4 years away from being a contender, thanks to their ability to recruit on a national level via the recognizable Power T.

The Tennessee brand still means something in homes across the country. And that’s a powerful tool that will help Heupel in his quest to rebuild the UT football program.

Featured image via Caitie McMekin/News Sentinel via Imagn Content Services/USA Today