The sportingnews.com columnist also is impressed with Vol safety Jonathan Hefney, who he ranks No. 4 nationally among safeties.
A rising junior, Colquitt averaged 44.9 yards on 46 punts last fall, with 18 kicks downed inside the opponents' 20-yard line and eight resulting in fair catches. He was a first-team Coaches' All-SEC pick. Colquitt may handle UT's kickoff and placement chores this fall, as well.
Hefney, a 5-9, 185-pound rising senior, led the 2006 Vols in interceptions (5), while ranking second in tackles (96) and pass breakups (8). He registered three tackles for loss and a fumble recovery. A second-team Coaches' All-SEC selection, Hefney also ranked No. 1 in the conference and No. 17 nationally with a 12.1-yard punt-return average.
What follows is a recap of Hayes' rankings at safety and punter, along with his comments on each position:
2. Tom Zbikowski, Notre Dame
4. Jon Hefney, Tennessee
The breakdown: Forget about Phillips' mistake in the FIU brawl; he has been a model player/leader every other day of his career at Miami. Demps is way underrated and terrific in coverage. Mays, only a sophomore, will be the best of the group by the end of the season.
1. Britton Colquitt, Tennessee
The breakdown: Colquitt is far and away the best in the nation - both in leg strength and ball placement.