Tennessee gets fewer first-place votes than South Carolina

Tennessee defensive back Justin Martin (8) tackles Appalachian State's Jaquil Capel during the 2016 season opener at Neyland Stadium. Martin impressed defensive coordinator Bob Shoop with his consistency this spring.

KNOXVILLE - Last year's overwhelming favorite to win the SEC East has been tabbed to finish a distant third in the division this year by media covering the conference.

Tennessee picked up just three out of 242 first-place votes, fewer than Georgia (138), Florida (96) and South Carolina (5) in the totals from SEC media days released by the league Friday. Tennessee received 998 points overall, behind Georgia and Florida in the division.

Alabama was picked to win the West and the conference again.

The Volunteers were the big favorites in their division before the 2016 season but stumbled down the stretch with losses to South Carolina and Vanderbilt, opening the door for Florida to win the East.

Tennessee coach Butch Jones stopped short of calling the 2016 season a disappointment during Tennessee's turn Monday at media days in Hoover, Ala.

"The way I view it is we didn't accomplish everything we set ourselves out to," Jones said. "And, again, our goal every year is to win a championship and compete to win a championship. So, was it a disappointment? No. Did we not accomplish some of the things we set out to do? Absolutely. We have to learn from the things that went wrong that we could have done better."

Tennessee had four players chosen to preseason All-SEC teams after having nine chosen last year.

Contact David Cobb at dcobb@timesfreepress.com.