Nigel Warrior is widely accepted within the Tennessee fan base as one of the Vols’ best players, but Athlon Sports suggested Warrior should be a bigger name throughout all of college football.

Warrior was listed among the 50 most underrated players in college football, according to a recent piece by Athlon’s Steven Lassan.

The Tennessee junior was one of nine SEC players on the list, joining Missouri offensive lineman Paul Adams, Auburn cornerback Jamel Dean, South Carolina wide receiver Bryan Edwards, Arkansas linebacker De'Jon Harris, Georgia safety J.R. Reed, Florida linebacker David Reese, Vanderbilt quarterback Kyle Shurmur and Mississippi State running back Aeris Williams.

“New Tennessee coach Jeremy Pruitt is a defensive back coach by trade and should help Warrior elevate his play into a spot among the SEC’s top players in the secondary,” Lassan wrote.

The son of former Vols and NFL star Dale Carter, Warrior came to Tennessee with sky-high expectations as the nation’s No. 57 overall prospect and No. 4 safety prospect in the 2016 industry-generated 247Sports Composite, and he certainly hasn’t disappointed. The Atlanta-area native was named to the SEC All-Freshman Team in 2016, and his first full season as a starter (2017) ended with 83 tackles, three tackles for loss, three pass breakups, three forced fumbles and one interception last season. He returned that one interception 70 yards for a touchdown at Missouri in November.

Pro Football Focus — a partner of 247Sports — graded Gaulden last season at 81.2 overall in 822 snaps. Future Carolina Panthers’ third-round NFL Draft pick Rashaan Gaulden was the only Tennessee player to finish last season with a grade higher than Warrior, who finished with a strong grade against the run (80.9) and the pass (76.8).

Warrior’s spot seems to be the only ironclad first-team spot heading into preseason camp, and the talented junior also could be featured as a return specialist.

Athlon is far from the only outlet projecting Warrior to have a big junior season. Several outlets named him to their Preseason All-SEC team, and a few have listed him as an honorable mention Preseason All-American. That’s hardly surprising given the fact that LSU head coach Ed Orgeron claimed last season that Warrior was already one of the SEC’s best players at any position.

Tennessee’s preseason camp is scheduled to start on Friday, Aug. 3, and the Vols open their season with a tough test against West Virginia on Sept. 1 in Bank of America Stadium in Charlotte, N.C.

West Virginia figures to be tough challenge for Warrior and the rest of Tennessee’s defense, especially on the back end. Mountaineers senior Will Grier is consistently mentioned as one of the nation’s best quarterbacks, and the Mountaineers’ wide receiver corps is considered one of the best — if not the best — in all of college football.