Many great athletes have donned the orange and white. Numerous All-Americans have run through the “T” in front of a sea of roaring fans. The Volunteers have claimed six National Championships in their historied football program with the most recent coming in 1998. The Tennessee offense has played a huge part in the program’s success. Earlier generations remember legends such as Condredge Holloway, Johnnie Jones, and Johnny Majors. While the newer fans remember players like Peyton Manning, Arian Foster, and Jason Witten. Let’s take a look at the All-Tennessee offense.
Quarterback: Peyton Manning (1994-1997)
College Stats: 11,201 passing yards, 101 total touchdowns, 39-6 record as a starter, 1st overall pick in the 1998 NFL Draft.
Tennessee has had many great quarterbacks line up behind center from Bobby Dodd and Conredge Holloway to Casey Clausen and Josh Dobbs. However, no quarterback has had more long-term success at Tennessee than Peyton Manning. With a record of 39-6 as a starter, Manning holds the record for most wins by an SEC starting quarterback. Manning was named an All-American three times while leading the Volunteers to an SEC title in 1997. He also was named the runner-up in the 1997 Heisman trophy race behind Michigan star Charles Woodson.
Running Back: James Stewart (1991-1994)
College Stats: 2,890 rushing yards and 39 total touchdowns. 19th overall pick in the 1995 NFL Draft.
With the running back position being one of the toughest chooses when it comes to the greatest, James Stewart finds himself at the top. Stewart is the Volunteer’s career rushing touchdown leader with 35 and third in rushing yards with 2,890 only behind Arian Foster and Travis Henry. Tennessee’s historic depth at the position gives them many former Vols to choose from. Jamal Lewis, Stanley Morgan, Johnny Majors, Travis Stephens are just a few names that could replace Stewart and not miss a beat.
Wide Receiver 1: Joey Kent (1993 – 1996)
College Stats: 183 receptions, 2,814 receiving yards, and 25 touchdowns. 46th overall pick in the 1997 NFL Draft.
Joey Kent was an experienced receiver at Tennessee by the time Peyton Manning joined the team in 1994. This caused Manning to rely heavily on the speed and hands of Kent and Joey was sure to be there when called on. The Manning-Kent connection remains one of the most lethal in any Tennessee offense. Kent leads Tennessee in all three career receiving categories making him an easy choice for the top receiver.
Wide Receiver 2: Marcus Nash (1994-1997)
College Stats: 177 receptions, 2,447 receiving yards, and 20 touchdowns. 30th overall in the 1998 NFL Draft.
In his first three seasons in the Tennessee offense, Nash accumulated 1,200 yards and seven touchdowns mainly because of teammate Joey Kent being Manning’s number one target. Following Kent’s departure in ‘96, Nash had a breakout senior campaign. He racked up 76 receptions, 1,170 yards, and 13 touchdowns.
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Wide Receiver 3: Peerless Price (1995-1998)
College Stats: 147 receptions, 2,248 receiving yards, and 20 touchdowns. 53rd overall pick in the 1999 NFL Draft.
Peerless Price is known by many for his spectacular performance in Tennessee’s 1998 National Championship win against Florida State. Price caught four passes from Tee Martin for 199 yards and the game-winning touchdown to give the Volunteers their first consensus national title since 1951. Peerless had solid sophomore and junior seasons but took his game to the next level following the graduation of Marcus Nash in 1998. Peerless strung together three straight 600+ yard seasons including 920 yards and 10 touchdowns as a senior.
Tight End: Jason Witten (2000-2002)
College Stats: 68 receptions, 797 receiving yards, and seven touchdowns. 69th overall pick in the 2002 NFL Draft.
Jason Witten is widely known for his hall of fame career as the tight end for the Dallas Cowboys. However, Witten began his collegiate career at Tennessee as a defensive end. During his freshman season, Jason slowly transitioned to the offensive side of the ball due to injuries and lack of depth at the position. As a natural talent, he quickly picked up the necessary skill and became Tennessee’s greatest tight end in just two short seasons.
Guard: Bob Suffridge (1938-1940)
Though many great Volunteers have come through the program, none have seen the success that Bob Suffridge did in the late 1930s. Suffridge is, to this day, the only Tennessee Volunteer to be named an All-American three times. He also never lost a regular-season game, going 30-0, wearing the orange and white. Coach Robert Neyland dubbed Suffridge as the greatest lineman he had ever seen. He was drafted in the sixth round of the 1941 NFL Draft.
Guard: Steve DeLong (1962-1964)
Steve DeLong overcame many obstacles during his Tennessee career to obtain significant achievements. DeLong was named All-SEC and an All-American in 1963 and 1964 despite the Vols going 13-16-1. To add to the feat, Steve did so while being coached by three different head coaches in his three seasons. His career was highlighted by coming in eighth in the 1964 Heisman race and winning the Outland Award for Best Interior Lineman. DeLong was drafted sixth overall in the 1965 NFL Draft.
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Tackle: Antone Davis (1988-1990)
Antone Davis’ career got off to a rough start as he didn’t get quality playing time until halfway through his sophomore season. Davis helped lead the way for running back Chuck Webb and the Tennessee offense to run through defenses for 1,236 yards and a team average of nearly 250 rush yards per game in 1989. Antone did the same in 1990 as the team average 205 yards through the air and on the ground. In 1990, Davis was runner-up in the Outland Award, a consensus All-American, and awarded the Jacobs Blocking Trophy for best SEC lineman. Antone would go on to be drafted with the eighth pick of the 1991 NFL Draft.
Tackle: Chad Clifton
Clifton emerged on the scene at Tennessee as a redshirt freshman. He was in the starting lineup on opening day in 1996 and never looked back. Clifton helped protect Peyton Manning during his two most successful seasons. Tennessee had a 43-7 record when Clifton started on the offensive line including a victory in the 1998 National Championship game. Chad was named to the All-SEC team his sophomore and junior season and a spot on the All-American team according to Sporting News in 1999. Clifton was drafted with the 44th overall pick in the 2000 NFL Draft.
Center: Bob Johnson
Bob Johnson, a name not known by all, was one of the best linemen to play for the Tennessee Volunteers. Johnson, coached Doug Dickey, was named to the All-SEC and All-American teams in 1966 and 1967. In 1967, Bob also became the first true center to finish in the running for the Heisman trophy, where he finished sixth. Johnson would also be awarded the Jacobs trophy and named the SEC’s most outstanding lineman. In 1968, he would be drafted second overall and inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame in 1989.
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