Athlon Sports revealed their preseason top 25 college football rankings this week and they have the Tennessee Vols inside the top 20.

Tennessee comes in at No. 18 in their preseason rankings, just behind Oklahoma State and Wake Forest.

There are only three other SEC teams ahead of the Vols — Alabama (No. 1), Georgia (No. 3), and Texas A&M (No. 5).

Kentucky (No. 21) and Arkansas (No. 22) are the other SEC teams that were included in the top 25.

From Athlon Sports:

Josh Heupel brought significant improvement and a high-powered offense to Rocky Top last fall. The Volunteers finished second in the SEC in scoring offense (39.3 points a game – up from 21.5 the previous year) and averaged 6.5 yards a snap (up from 5.3). Also, Tennessee led the SEC in plays of 40-plus yards (23) after connecting on just three in ’20. Quarterback Hendon Hooker (31 TDs to 3 INTs) is back to direct the offense, with Cedric Tillman (64 catches for 1,081 yards) the main target.

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Tennessee quarterback Hendon Hooker (5) is pursued by Mississippi defensive linemen Tavius Robinson (95) and Sam Williams (7) in the NCAA college football game between Tennessee and Ole Miss in Knoxville, Tenn. on Sunday, October 17, 2021.
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I’d probably have Tennessee ranked around No. 22 if these were my rankings. But the teams from No. 15 to No. 25 could really be ranked in any order ahead of the season — there are far too many unknowns to know for sure where these teams should be ranked. Preseason rankings are nothing more than a guess (which means they really don’t mean anything).

However, it’s still nice to see the Vols getting some preseason love. Their 2021 season didn’t end the way they wanted (that was a tough loss to Purdue in the Music City Bowl), but for most of the year, Tennessee played like a top 25 team.

Featured image via Saul Young/News Sentinel / USA TODAY NETWORK