Tennessee Vols wide receiver Cedric Tillman didn’t make much of an impact during his first few seasons in Knoxville, catching only eight passes in three seasons.

This past season, however, Tillman exploded in Josh Heupel’s offense. Tillman led the Vols in receiving, catching 64 passes for 1,081 yards and 12 touchdowns.

The Las Vegas native could’ve declared for the 2022 NFL Draft, but he decided instead to return to Tennessee for his final season of eligibility.

Usually, any SEC wide receiver who tops 1,000 receiving yards in a season and returns for another season gets a lot of hype over the offseason.

But that’s not the case for Tillman — at least not when it comes to the national media.

Rivals.com ranked the top 10 wide receivers in the nation this week and Tillman wasn’t included.

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

My initial thought was that maybe there really are 10 wide receivers in the country better than Tillman.

But when I took a look at the list, I quickly realized that’s not the case.

Tillman has a good argument to be listed above at least four of the wide receivers on Rivals.com’s list.

TCU wide receiver Quentin Johnston hasn’t played in more than eight games in his first two years in college. And he hasn’t totaled more than 612 yards in a season. But he was listed above Tillman.

Oklahoma wide receiver Marvin Mims finished the 2021 season with 705 receiving yards and five touchdowns.

Iowa State wide receiver Xavier Hutchinson had 83 receptions for 987 yards and five touchdowns as a senior in 2021.

Michigan State wide receiver Jayden Reed was close to Tillman, catching 59 passes for 1,026 yards and seven touchdowns.

Tillman had better numbers than all of those wide receivers. And he should have even better numbers in 2022 — Tillman’s second season in Heupel’s offense.

Tillman deserves some respect for his breakout season in 2021. He had one of the best seasons in the SEC. And he’s only going to improve more in 2022. There’s no reason he should’ve been left off this list.

Featured image via Jordan Prather-USA TODAY Sports