May 21, 2012
Six Tennessee football student-athletes were selected to Phil Steele's 2012 Preseason All-SEC teams, including first-team junior wide receiver Da'Rick Rogers, who was also named to the publication's preseason All-American second team.
Wide receiver Justin Hunter (second team), defensive back Prentiss Waggner (second team), offensive lineman Dallas Thomas (third team), linebacker A.J. Johnson (third team) and offensive lineman Ja'Wuan James (fourth team) were also honored.
The Vols, who are ranked 27th in Phil Steele's 2012 College Football Preview, return 10 starters on offense and eight on defense in 2012, including the six recognized.
Rogers, an All-SEC first team (AP) and second team (Coaches) selection in 2011, led the SEC with 67 receptions for 1,040 receiving yards last season. Just the sixth UT player to post a 1,000-yard receiving season, Rogers tallied nine touchdowns, which ranked as the seventh-most by a Vol in a single season.
Hunter, who got off to a terrific start in 2011, saw his sophomore season come to an end after tearing his ACL in Tennessee's third game against Florida. Prior to his injury, Hunter ranked 10th nationally in receiving yards per game (151.0) and 12th in receptions per game (8.0), both of which led the conference. Hunter practiced with the Vols this spring and is expected to be ready for the 2012 season.
Also on the preseason second team was Waggner, who leads Tennessee with 27 starts heading into next season. Waggner led the Vols with nine passes defended and seven passes broken up last year, and was tied for sixth on the squad with 48 tackles. A 2010 All-SEC Second Team (AP) member, Waggner is tied with Herman Lathers for most total returning tackles by a Vol with 116.
Garnering five freshman All-American honors to set the Tennessee record in 2011, Johnson led all SEC rookies and ranked second on the Vols with 80 tackles in 2011. The Gainesville, Ga., native posted the second-most stops by a true freshman in UT history and was named to the SEC All-Freshman Team.
Thomas and James are second on the team with 25 returning starts each after both started every game the last two seasons. Tennessee allowed just 18 sacks in 2011, which was the third-lowest total in the SEC.
Tennessee opens the 2012 season against N.C. State at the Georgia Dome in Atlanta, Ga, on Friday, Aug. 31. Kickoff is slated for 7:30 p.m. ET and the game will be televised on ESPNU.