Heading into the 2014 season, head Tennessee football coach Butch Jones needs to fill several open starting positions on the Volunteers roster.
In his second year on the job—a year when many new head coaches are first truly judged on their abilities to win football games—Jones faces a daunting schedule with a roster that includes zero returning starters on the offensive and defensive lines.
The Vols also lost key starters at the linebacker, running back and kicker/punter positions to graduation.
Jones and his staff managed to haul in the fifth-ranked recruiting class in the country in February, per Rivals. Many of those talented newcomers will have every chance to earn significant playing time and even starting positions before the Vols kickoff against Utah State on Aug. 31.
But the SEC is an unforgiving league. Young players who aren't used to the speed of the college game and competing against the size and strength of NFL-bound athletes are often targeted and exposed by opposing offensive and defensive coordinators.
No matter how talented Tennessee's incoming freshmen are, they face a tall order when it comes to beating out the Vols' veteran players who have patiently waited for their turns to make a name for themselves on Rocky Top.
Here are the players who are most likely to win the Vols' open starting positions in 2014.