Tennessee football hasn’t arrived yet, at least in tight end Jacob Warren’s eyes.
When the final AP poll was released, the Vols finished sixth. The Crimson Tide came in at No. 5.
Tennessee beat Alabama head-to-head, and the Vols have a win over a common opponent in LSU. Warren wasn’t surprised by the rankings.
“They made it pretty clear that they thought they were the better team a couple of weeks before the season ended or at the end of the season, and there was probably not much to change that,” Warren told Off The Hook Sports. “So, I’m kind of over it, it is what it is.”
Tennessee football fans and players alike are not immune to disrespect from outside forces. National media and polls have often counted out the Vols and ranked them lower than they deserved.
“Battered Vol Syndrome” has become a common ailment in Knoxville, and to no one’s surprise. After a rollercoaster of a decade, Tennessee finally is back on the national stage.
Many people will agree that this year’s Tennessee football team overachieved in comparison to their preseason predictions. Most people had the Vols finishing 8-4 with 10-2 as their ceiling. Warren didn’t focus on what anyone had to say about their season.
“People go through ‘awe they’re going to lose there, they going to lose there,’” he said. “We don’t think like that. We’re going ‘we should win that one. We should win that one, that one’s going to be a good game’ right? That’s usually what I say. ‘That’ll be a good game. We have the chance to win that one. That’ll be a good game.’”
Tennessee upset Alabama in Neyland, most notably, but also beat teams like Pitt and Florida where many had the Vols’ chances as a toss-up.
The culture is changing in Knoxville. Josh Heupel has brought an excitement and energy to Tennessee that hasn’t been felt since 2016. While the Vols may be back in the spotlight, they haven’t accomplished any of their goals… yet.
The disrespect in the final AP Poll, and Coach’s poll, has given the Vols something to motivate them through the offseason.
“We haven’t arrived right, we haven’t accomplished everything that we want to accomplish, but we are,” Warren said. “We are on the scene and we are a prominent figure and a prominent name. So, going into next season, obviously looking to kind of uphold that and show that it wasn’t just a fluke season or whatever. (Show) that we really are changing the culture and changing the program.”