Former Tennessee Vols defensive back Alontae Taylor is convinced that UT will accomplish big things in 2022 under Josh Heupel.

Taylor, who was selected in the second round of the 2022 NFL Draft by the New Orleans Saints last month, recently sat down with WATE’s Kellyanne Stitts to discuss his time at Tennessee and the future of the program.

The Tennessee native said he thinks the Vols can win the SEC championship this upcoming season.

I told Coach Heup after they had a scrimmage, y‘all could go win the SEC Championship, I have no doubt about it,” said Taylor.

A lot of things will obviously have to go right for Tennessee to make a run at the SEC Championship in 2022. The team has to stay healthy. The defense needs to take another step forward under defensive coordinator Tim Banks. And the Vols’ short-yardage game has to improve (failing to convert third-and-short situations was an Achilles heel for UT last season).

Tennessee, however, isn’t as far away from an SEC Championship as some folks probably think.

Alabama and Georgia are the class of the SEC. They have more talent and more depth than the other 12 programs in the league. But beyond those two programs, who’s next on the list of legitimate contenders for the conference title?

I think it’s Texas A&M next, and then there’s a group of programs that are in the same neighborhood with each other. And that group includes Tennessee, along with Ole Miss, Arkansas, LSU (depending on how Brian Kelly works out), and Kentucky.

It’s plausible that Alabama or Georgia falters just enough for one of those programs in that tier below the Aggies to compete for the SEC Championship in December.

If the Vols can shock the world and upset Alabama or Georgia, then Taylor could end up being right.

It’s a long shot that Tennessee wins the conference, but I don’t think it’s impossible.

Featured image via Calvin Mattheis/News Sentinel / USA TODAY NETWORK