New Tennessee head coach Derek Dooley is looking to follow in the footsteps of his father, the legendary Vince Dooley, in resurrecting a Southeastern Conference program. In 1964, Papa Dooley managed a 7-3-1 record and a Sun Bowl victory in his first outing with the Bulldogs. Forty-four years later, Dooley Jr. will face a much tougher test, in a far more competitive and expanded version of the SEC.
The Volunteers 2010 schedule is arguably more daunting than the 2009 version that first year head coach Lane Kiffin faced. Dooley's squad will host Oregon following a Week One warm-up against UT-Martin. Then the fun begins...Florida, UAB, @ LSU, @ Georgia, with a bye week before defending national champions Alabama visit Knoxville. Throw in an extra road trip to South Carolina and a November visit from Ole Miss and you've got yourself a schedule that can leave an entire fanbase with a football hangover by Halloween.
After losing their +1,000 yard rusher, senior quarterback, the entire offensive line and All-American safety Eric Berry, it's a wonder the Volunteers don't throw in the towel now and keep their new head coach's hair dark for next season's media guide cover. Yet, this is still one of the prime programs of SEC football, and despite the turmoil of the past two years, there is still talent across the board.
Here are the top five players who must have an impact if Tennessee wants to save face in 2010...