The Tennessee Vols are going to spend another season toward the bottom of the SEC East — at least according to recent predictions from The Athletic.

Three of the most well respected national college football writers — Bruce Feldman, Stewart Mandel and Andy Staples — recently made their preseason predictions for the SEC.

Each writer has Tennessee finishing next to last in the SEC East, just above Vanderbilt.

Feldman and Mandel predicted that UT will finish 6-6, while Staples has the Vols at 7-5.

These predictions are pretty much what we’ve been seeing all summer Tennessee.

Most folks seem to think the Vols will reach a bowl game in Jeremy Pruitt’s second season, but no one is expecting much more.

That means that anything other than a bowl game appearance will be a major disappointment for Tennessee.

But at the same time, it means if the Vols win seven or eight games, then Pruitt will have exceeded expectations in year two.

And it’s certainly been a long time since Tennessee has exceeded anyone’s expectations (probably since the 2004 season).

Is UT on the right track?

We’re going to learn a lot about what the future of the Vols looks like this season.

Pruitt didn’t have much to work with in 2018. The roster still isn’t where it needs to be, but it’s undeniably better than it was a season ago.

If Tennessee wins six games, it means the Vols are on the right track. If they win eight games, it’s time for fans to get really excited, because Pruitt is building a powerhouse.

But if Tennessee fails to reach a bowl, it’ll be the first red flag for Pruitt.

In four short months (too short, football season goes by way too fast), we’ll know a lot more about Pruitt as a head coach.

Buckle up. It always gets wild this time of year on Rocky Top.

Featured image via Randy Sartin-USA TODAY Sports