Daily Beacon Sports Editor David Cobb covered every UT football game — save Oregon and Kentucky — in 2013 and totalled the position grades from the Beacon staff into a cumulative grade per position based on their performance this season.
Quarterbacks: 2.08, C
Joshua Dobbs played the best game of his young career at Kentucky on Saturday in UT's season finale, but it could not save the quarterbacks from receiving a low grade for the year. Dobbs' growing pains and Nathan Peterman's disastrous start at Florida showed that Justin Worley probably was UT's best option under center in 2013.
Running backs: 3.00, B
Rajion Neal surpassed 1,000 yards at Kentucky on UT's second play from scrimmage when he scampered 60 yards for a score. He and Marlin Lane provided stability in the backfield this season for an otherwise unstable Tennessee team.
Wide receivers: 2.70, B-
This group entered the season as the biggest rebuilding project on the roster after losing an abundance of playmakers from the 2012 roster. Freshman Marquez North proved better than advertised and Alton "Pig" Howard emerged as a legitimate playmaker. Jason Croom established himself as a player that could remain relevant even after an influx of new wide receivers enter the picture in 2014.
Offensive line: 2.86, B-
This group entered the year touted as perhaps the best offensive line in the SEC, if not the nation. Though it's safe to say the veteran-laden line failed to live up to expectations, the group played sufficiently in 2013. Unless Antonio "Tiny" Richardson returns for his senior season, a massive rebuilding project lies ahead for the offensive line.
Defensive line: 2.58, C+
Corey Miller embodied the theme of the season for the defensive line on Saturday with his school-record 4.5 sacks against UK. Resurgent seniors led this group all season and helped them show improvement in the return to a four-man front following Sal Sunseri's problematic one-year tenure as defensive coordinator in 2012.
Linebackers: 2.52, C+
This group struggled much of the year without Curt Maggitt, who opted for a medical redshirt. A.J. Johnson, Dontavis Sapp and Brent Brewer held down the middle of the Vols defense for essentially the entirety of the season but struggled to contain mobile quarterbacks and slot receivers.
Defensive backs: 2.25, C
Cameron Sutton played far beyond his years in 2013. Vanderbilt All-American receiver Jordan Matthews burned the freshman cornerback in a key situation of a key game, but that aside, he takes the honors for best UT defensive back this season. The rest of the secondary will likely be fighting for jobs against an influx of talent next season.
Special teams: 2.92, B-
Michael Palardy deserves an "A" for his performance in 2013, especially given the sizable turnaround from his previous three years at UT. The kickoff return team failed to affect games, though, and UT's kickoff return defense showed susceptibility.
Season GPA: 2.46, C+
As I predicted they would in the football preview edition, the Vols finished 5-7 in Butch Jones' inaugural season as head coach. If recruiting were a category in these grades, UT's GPA would be much higher. However, until the results come in the form of wins, the jury should stay out on Jones.