The last time the Tennessee Volunteers won double-digit games or reached a bowl game was in 2007, when Phillip Fulmer was still coaching the team. Since then, nothing has come easily for this program, as it seems they have quickly become one of the laughing stocks of the SEC.
This season, all of that can change, as Tennessee returns 18 starters, including 10 on the offensive side of the ball. The Volunteers are also getting back several players from injury and have a solid recruiting class coming in as well.
This team may be young, but it has some of the most talent of any other football team in the country.
As we quickly approach fall camp and the regular season, here is what the 2012 Tennessee Volunteers depth chart should look like.
Starter: Tyler Bray, Junior
Backup: Justin Worley, Sophomore
Bray has been a decent quarterback the past two seasons for the Volunteers, but with the talent around him, he should take a couple steps forward in 2012.
This is Bray's third season at Tennessee. Big things are expected from the quarterback, and he has the potential to become one of the better players in the SEC at his position.
Starter: Marlin Lane, Sophomore
Backup: Rajion Neal, Junior
Tennessee was terrible at running the football last year, which will obviously have to improve for this team to experience more success. Lane will be the starting running back once again in 2012, after averaging less than four yards a carry last season. He is still a versatile runner, and he did show a little bit of what he was capable of last season.
Expect a bigger year this time around.
Starter: Da’Rick Rogers, Junior
Backup: Zach Rogers, Senior
Rogers led the team in receiving last year with 67 receptions for over 1,000 yards and nine touchdowns. At 6'3" and with the speed he possesses, Rogers should be considered one of the best receivers in the entire country.
Starter: Justin Hunter, Junior
Backup: Vincent Dallas, Sophomore
Speaking of top receivers, Hunter has all of the potential in the world. He is coming off of a season-ending injury, but he will likely be ready by the time the season begins.
At 6'4", Hunter is easily one of the most gifted receivers in college football. In just two-and-a-half games last year, he caught 17 passes for 314 yards and two touchdowns.
Starter: Mychal Rivera, Senior
Backup: Cameron Clear, Sophomore
Rivera adds some experience to this young team and is another big target at 6'3", 245 pounds. He caught 29 passes last season for 344 yards.
Starter: Antonio Richardson, Sophomore
Backup: Kyler Kerbyson, Freshman
Richardson played in 12 games last season, but he doesn't have any starts under his belt. Still, the former 4-star recruit will be expected to protect Bray's blindside this season.
Starter: Dallas Thomas, Senior
Backup: Marcus Jackson, Sophomore
Thomas is one of the more experienced linemen the Volunteers have, as he has started the last 25 games of his career. He is used to playing the left tackle position, but with the confidence they have in Richardson, Thomas will be able to slide over.
Starter: Alex Bullard, Junior
Backup: Mack Crowder, Freshman
Bullard is a versatile lineman who played six games at left guard last season and six at center. Expect him to remain in the middle of this offensive line.
Starter: Zach Fulton, Junior
Backup: James Stone, Junior
Fulton has started the last 15 games at the right guard position for the Volunteers.
Starter: Ja’Wuan James, Junior
Backup: Alan Posey, Freshman
James has started all 25 games of his career at the right tackle position and is a preseason All-SEC member.
Starter: Marlon Walls, Junior
Backup: Trevarris Saulsberry, Freshman
Walls started four games on the defensive line last season, producing 22 tackles and a sack.
Starter: Steven Fowlkes, Senior
Backup: Darrington Sentimore, Junior
Fowlkes is a fifth-year senior who missed the entire 2011 season due to injury. The good news is that he is healthy, had a great spring and will likely earn his way into a starting role.
Starter: Maurice Couch, Junior
Backup: Daniel Hood, Junior
Couch was a junior college transfer. He started four games on this defensive line, finishing with 37 tackles, nine tackles for loss and two sacks.
Starter: Jacques Smith, Junior
Backup: Jordan Williams, Sophomore
Smith started eight games last season on the defensive line, but with Tennessee switching to a 3-4 defense, he will become the outside linebacker. Smith finished with 35 tackles last season and has added weight during the offseason for the new position.
Starter: Curt Maggitt, Sophomore
Backup: Willie Bohannon, Senior
Maggitt has a bright future in Tennessee, starting eight games last year as a true freshman. He finished the year with 56 tackles, one interception and a forced fumble.
Starter: Herman Lathers, Senior
Backup: Christian Harris, Freshman
Lathers missed all of last season with an ankle injury, but in 2010, he finished second on the team with 75 tackles. Tennessee can also use his experience at the linebacker position and certainly his leadership.
Starter: A.J. Johnson, Sophomore
Backup: Channing Fugate, Junior
Johnson led the team in tackles last season with 81 and was a SEC All-Freshman team selection.
Starter: Justin Coleman, Sophomore
Backup: Eric Gordon, Junior
Coleman started four games last year as a true freshman and broke up two passes. He has a great combination of size and speed to become a solid corner in this league.
Starter: Byron Moore, Junior
Backup: Brent Brewer, Junior
Moore was a junior college transfer last season, and he started only two games. Expect his role to increase due to his instincts on the field and ridiculous upside.
Starter: Brian Randolph, Sophomore
Backup: Rod Wilks, Senior
Randolph started eight games last season and finished fifth on the team with 55 tackles. He was also a 2011 Yahoo! Sports Second-Team Freshman All-American
Starter: Prentiss Waggner, Senior
Backup: Deion Bonner, Freshman
Waggner has started the last 25 games at cornerback and has over 100 tackles and seven interceptions to his credit. He is the leader of the defensive backfield and is considered a top-60 player in the SEC, according to Bleacher Report's lead SEC writer, Barrett Sallee.
Starter: Michael Palardy, Junior
Backup: Derrick Brodus, Sophomore
Palardy made nine of his 14 attempts last season, but he will have to battle walk-on kicker Brodus for the starting position.
Starter: Matt Darr, Sophomore
Backup: Michael Palardy, Junior
Much like the kicking position, the punter will remain up in the air as well. Darr punted the ball 40 times last season, averaging 38.1 yards, while Palardy kicked the ball 14 times, resulting in a 36.7 yards per attempt average.