By Kellen Hiser
Four Tennessee representatives were selected to the 2015 Preseason Coaches All-Southeastern Conference Football Teams, as announced Tuesday by the SEC office. Senior linebacker and defensive lineman Curt Maggitt is the lone Vol named preseason first team All-SEC while Derek Barnett, Cameron Sutton and Joshua Dobbs also received All-SEC recognition.
Tuesday’s announcement marks 13 consecutive years that SEC Coaches Preseason All-SEC Teams have been formulated. Coaches were not permitted to vote for their own players when selecting their preseason all-conference teams.
A senior from West Palm Beach, Florida, Maggitt led the Vols with a career-best 11.0 sacks in 2014, the third-best total in the SEC and tied for fourth-highest total for a Tennessee player in a season all-time. He has recorded a sack in his last five consecutive games, including 2.0 sacks in three of his last four games. Maggitt also recorded 14.0 tackles for loss, tying for seventh in the league in that category and ranking behind only Barnett on the Tennessee squad.
On the heels of a stellar freshman campaign, Barnett was selected to the defensive second team by the SEC’s coaches. As a true freshman in 2014, Barnett played all 13 games on the defensive line, starting 10, and led all true freshmen in the SEC in tackles with 72. The Nashville native became the first true freshman to start a season opener on defensive line in Tennessee history and went on to set Volunteer freshman records with 20.5 tackles for loss and 10 sacks. He set a UT rookie record for sacks in a game with three at No. 3 Ole Miss and tied his own mark with another three-sack night at South Carolina.
Barnett is joined on the All-SEC second team by junior defensive back Sutton. The Jonesboro, Ga. native started all 13 games for Tennessee a season ago, posting 37 tackles with four for a loss and a team-best 16 passes defended. He also had 14 punt returns for 158 yards, including a 76-yard return for a touchdown against Vanderbilt. It was the first punt return TD for the Vols since first since Cordarrelle Patterson completed the feat in 2012.
The fourth Vol to earn All-SEC recognition on the preseason coach’s teams is junior quarterback Dobbs. Already named to the watch lists for the Maxwell Award, Wuerffel Trophy, Davey O’Brien Award and Manning Award, Dobbs went 4-1 as the Vols starting quarterback in 2014. In those five starts, Tennessee averaged 36.7 points per game and racked up 431 yards of offense per game. In six games overall, the Alpharetta, Ga. native compiled 1,675 yards of total offense—an average of 279 per game—and was responsible for 17 touchdowns (nine passing, eight rushing). Dobbs threw for 1,206 yards on 112-of-177 passing and rushed for 469 yards.