The Tennessee Vols have one of the most underrated players in the nation on their roster and he’s not receiving nearly enough hype this offseason.

Redshirt senior wide receiver Cedric Tillman was one of the best offensive players in the SEC last season. The Las Vegas native was a non-factor during his first few years on Rocky Top, totaling eight receptions for 124 yards and two touchdowns during the three seasons before Josh Heupel took over as the program’s head coach.

In 2021, Tillman broke out in a big way, catching 64 passes for 1,081 yards and 12 touchdowns. It was quietly one of the best seasons for a wide receiver in Tennessee football history.

Not only was Tillman’s 2021 season one of the best in program history, but it was also one of the best in the SEC last season.

Tennessee Vols
Tennessee wide receiver Cedric Tillman (4) is pursued by Vanderbilt cornerbacks Jaylen Mahoney (23) and Allan George (28) in the NCAA college football game between the Tennesse Volunteers and Vanderbilt Commodores in Knoxville, Tenn. on Saturday, November 27, 2021.
Kns Tennessee Vanderbilt Football Vols

Tillman finished No. 5 in the SEC last season in receiving yards, just behind Arkansas wide receiver Treylon Burks, who was the No. 18 overall draft pick (by the Tennessee Titans) in the 2022 NFL Draft.

In theory, Tillman should be even better in 2022 since it will be his second season in Heupel’s offense.

And Heupel seems to agree.

“What he’s done throughout the course of the season, just continued to get better and better,” said Heupel after Tillman announced his return to Tennessee late last year. “I think he’s got a much higher ceiling than even how he’s played at the end of this year. Excited to have him back. Mature competitor. Becoming a great leader inside of the wide receiver room in particular. It’s a huge pickup for us as a program to get him back.”

“He’s a young man that has played really well, but has a bright, bright future inside of this game,” added Heupel. “He’s only going to continue to get better.”

Tillman should absolutely be one of the favorites to win the Biletnikoff Award in 2022. He should also be viewed as a first-round pick in the 2023 NFL Draft. This is one of the best wide receivers in the nation and it seems like no one outside of Knoxville is talking about him. It makes no sense.

The success of Tillman — a player who was relatively unknown during the recruiting process — should entice elite wide receivers to sign with the Vols.

If Heupel turned a former three-star recruit like Tillman into a star, imagine what he can do with a stud five-star recruit.

I’m not sure there’s a better program in the nation than Tennessee for a wide receiver to sign with right now.

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