The Tennessee Vols weren’t expected to be a good team in 2021.

Most analysts had the Vols winning only four or five games in Josh Heupel’s first season.

The Vols, however, surpassed expectations by winning seven games in the regular season.

That means expectations will be significantly higher for Tennessee in 2022.

As a result, the Vols will likely begin the season ranked inside the AP Top 25.

Pro Football Focus recently revealed their preseason top 25 and they have Tennessee ranked as the No. 22 team in the nation.

Tennessee wide receiver Jalin Hyatt (11) goes for a catch on a touchdown attempt in the end zone as Pittsburgh defensive back Marquis Williams (14) defends during a game against Pittsburgh at Neyland Stadium in Knoxville, Tenn. on Saturday, Sept. 11, 2021.
Kns Tennessee Pittsburgh Football

This seems like a fair ranking. I think the Vols were playing like a top 25 team at the end of the 2021 season, but I don’t think they need to be too hyped entering the 2022 season.

What doesn’t make sense is the rest of PFF’s top 25.

Specifically, they have Kentucky ranked at No. 18 and South Carolina at No. 15.

I don’t see how anyone actually watched Tennessee play Kentucky and South Carolina last season and feels like those two teams should be ranked above the Vols.

Tennessee put up 45 points on the Wildcats and they beat the Gamecocks by 25 points.

With quarterback Hendon Hooker, a potential Heisman Trophy finalist, returning for UT in 2022 and top wide receiver Cedric Tillman coming back, it’s hard to see why anyone would expect different results this upcoming season.

The Vols are ranked right where they should be by PFF. Kentucky and South Carolina, however, should be behind Tennessee. Ultimately, it doesn’t matter. But it’s surprising to see two teams that the Volunteers beat last season ranked above them entering 2022.

Featured image via Randy Sartin-USA TODAY Sports