On its way to a 5-5 record this season, Tennessee has had to deal with a shortage of talent it has rarely seen.
The Vols have been forced to rely on walk-ons and freshmen more than at any time in recent memory. And, based on UT's roster, it could get worse before it gets better.
That's bad news for UT fans starving for a championship contender, but good news for prospects looking to play right away.
In 2010, UT will have to replace starting quarterback Jonathan Crompton, leading rusher Montario Hardesty, five offensive linemen who have started at least one game - Chris Scott, Vladimir Richard, Cody Sullins, Cory Sullins, Jacques McClendon and Josh McNeil - solid tight end Jeff Cottam, its two best defensive tackles in Dan Williams and Wes Brown, its best linebacker in Rico McCoy and likely its best overall player, safety Eric Berry, who is expected to forgo his final season of eligibility and enter the NFL draft.
That's quite a list.
Here are the classes that will be expected to fill the many voids. Before reading, I warn you, don't get your hopes up.
Some redshirted players could help, but not many of the 22 signees are left.
Two players from the class have moved on after playing four years. Seven others were dismissed or left the program.
Nick Stephens will have a head start to start at quarterback.
Jarrod Shaw could be a starter on the offensive line. Tight end Luke Stocker should prove to be a valuable offensive weapon.
LaMarcus Thompson will be counted on to be a leader for the linebackers.
Tackle Victor Thomas could help on the defensive line.
Punter Chad Cunningham and kicker Daniel Lincoln both return.
Attrition has hit this class hard. Nine 2007 signees either never made it to UT or have left the program under less-than-ideal circumstances.
Receiver Gerald Jones and defensive ends Chris Walker and Ben Martin will be expected to provide big plays and leadership.
Denarius Moore and Jones should continue to improve and be a formidable one-two punch at receiver.
Cody Pope should help on the offensive line. He was competing for a starting position in preseason camp.
Kevin Cooper is a solid fullback.
Linebackers Daryl Vereen and Josh Hawkins need to prove their worth or risk getting passed on the depth chart by younger players, including incoming freshmen. Savion Frazier could land a starting job at linebacker.
The 2007 class was rich in defensive backs. Anthony Anderson, Art Evans, Dennis Rogan and Brent Vinson can all be counted on next season.
Most believe this was Phillip Fulmer's worst signing class - and it hasn't gotten better with time. But there are some highlights.
Offensive tackle Aaron Douglas is a star in the making. More will be expected out of Dallas Thomas, likely at tackle.
Defensive lineman Willie Bohannon and end Gerald Williams have shown flashes of promise. End Steven Fowlkes also has ability. Tackle Montori Hughes had a big off-season but hasn't lived up to the billing in 2009. Still, he's a freshman with great ability.
Linebacker Herman Lathers needs to continue to improve, especially if he's going to play middle linebacker and handle UT's defensive calls.
Tailback Tauren Poole showed flashes in preseason camp but has been relegated to a back-up role.
Austin Johnson should be a nice complement to Cooper at fullback.
Stephaun Raines and Prentiss Waggner should help in the secondary.
The Vols have lost two highly rated signees: receiver Nu'Keese Richardson and defensive back Mike Edwards. The jury is still out on safety Janzen Jackson. Safety Darren Myles almost assuredly will play next season.
Bryce Brown should be a more-than-adequate fill-in for Hardesty but he'll need help from classmate David Oku or Poole.
Linebacker Greg King has tremendous upside.
Receiver Marsalis Teague has worked his way into the receiver rotation.
Marlon Walls should help at defensive tackle.
We'll see who can play when they arrive on campus. But there's no doubt, they'll get their shot.
Dave Hooker covers recruiting. He may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org