Tennessee Football: 10 Greatest Vols Players in NFL History

Joel Barker@joelabarkerSenior Writer IFebruary 16, 2012

Tennessee Football: 10 Greatest Vols Players in NFL History

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    Through the years, the Tennessee Volunteers have had some exceptional players come through Knoxville, Tenn. on their way to incredible careers among the pro football ranks. 

    There are currently 39 former Vols on NFL rosters. 

    Only a handful of Vols, past and present, are worthy of being called "the greatest," however. Here is the list of the top Vols for Life based on their outstanding NFL careers. 

Anthony Miller

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    Anthony Miller played 10 years in the NFL. Splitting time with the Chargers, Cowboys and Broncos, Miller was selected to five Pro Bowls and finished among the top 15 in receiving touchdowns four times in his 10-year career. 

Dale Carter

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    Dale Carter made quite the splash when he arrived in the NFL in 1992. Carter won the NFL Defensive Rookie of the Year after intercepting seven passes and returning two punts for touchdowns. 

    Carter was an All-Pro from 1993-97 and played in four Pro Bowls. 

Bob Johnson

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    The very first draft pick in the history of the Cincinnati Bengals franchise, center Bob Johnson continued his stellar football career following his time at Tennessee. With the Vols, Johnson finished sixth in the 1967 Heisman voting as a center. 

    In the NFL, Johnson was voted All-Conference and All-Pro a combined seven times. Johnson played in the 1968 Pro Bowl. 

Stanley Morgan

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    One of the more electrifying players to don the orange and white, Stanley Morgan went on to an electrifying and long NFL career. Most of his career was spent with the New England Patriots. 

    Morgan had 11,832 career all-purpose yards in his 14 seasons in the NFL. From 1979-81, Morgan led the league in yards per reception with over 22 yards per in each season. Morgan played in four Pro Bowls. 

Al Wilson

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    Al Wilson will forever be known as the heart and soul of the Vols 1998 national championship team. After that season, however, Wilson went on to a relatively short, yet successful career in the NFL. 

    Wilson was first team All-Pro in 2005 and second team All-Pro in 2006. One of the more feared linebackers in the league throughout much of his eight-year career, Wilson had 21.5 sacks in his career. 

    Wilson made five Pro Bowls. 

Jason Witten

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    One of the top tight ends in the NFL since his arrival in 2002, Jason Witten has certainly made himself at home in the pro ranks. Before this season, Witten made seven consecutive trips to the Pro Bowl and has been a first team All-Pro selection twice in his nine-year career. 

    As the top player at his position for more than half a decade, Witten will go down as one of the greatest Vols to ever play in the NFL. 

Jamal Lewis

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    Jamal Lewis left UT for the NFL following his junior season and was selected fifth overall by the Baltimore Ravens. 

    Lewis played eight seasons in the NFL, helping the Ravens to a Super Bowl championship as the team's leading rusher in his rookie season. Lewis won the league MVP and Offensive Player of the Year in 2003. 

    The embattled running back rushed for 10,607 yards in an NFL career that was hampered by off-the-field issues with drugs. 

Doug Atkins

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    The first person named to both the College Football Hall of Fame and the Pro Football Hall of Fame, Doug Atkins tore up the college gridiron before doing the exact same thing in the NFL. 

    Atkins was the No. 1 draft pick in 1953. Atkins went on to an incredible career with the Chicago Bears beginning in 1955. The 6'8", 257-pound defensive end was All-NFL four times and played in eight Pro Bowls. 

    Atkins was known for his ability to routinely leap over offensive linemen in his pursuit of the quarterback. 

Peyton Manning

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    The greatest quarterback in the history of Tennessee football just so happens to be one of the best in NFL history as well. Peyton Manning still holds every important passing record at Tennessee. While he won only one SEC title at Tennessee, during his four years in Knoxville, the Vols went 39-6.

    Manning was the first and only player to win four NFL MVP awards. He has one Super Bowl MVP trophy. Manning, the man who resurrected the Indianapolis Colts franchise, has been a first team All-Pro five times and has played in 11 Pro Bowls. 

    During his time as the starter in Indianapolis, the Colts have finished under .500 just twice. Manning's record as the Colts starting quarterback is 141-67.

    Manning spent the 2011 season on injured reserve. The Colts went 2-14. 

Reggie White

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    Nicknamed "Minister of Defense" for his outspoken faith, Reggie White left Knoxville in 1984 and went on to become the greatest pass-rusher in NFL history with the Philadelphia Eagles, Green Bay Packers and Carolina Panthers. 

    White retired as the all-time leader in career sacks with 198 over his 15-year career in the NFL. A two-time defensive player of the year, White played in 13 Pro Bowls and was elected as a first team All-Pro 10 times. White was named to the NFL's All-Decade Team in both the 80's and 90's. 

    White's 21 sacks in 1987 still ranks fourth all-time for a single season. White still holds the Tennessee record for sacks in a single season (15) and career sacks (32). 

Honorable Mention

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    There are a handful of former Vols who made their name in other professional football leagues. 

    The Artful Dodger, quarterback Condredge Holloway, was inducted into the Canadian Football Hall of Fame in 1999 after a 13-year career in the CFL. Holloway was a two-time Grey Cup Champion and won the league's Most Outstanding Player award once. He threw for over 25,000 yards in his pro career.

    Andy Kelly, Tennessee quarterback from 1988-91, holds several career passing records after a 15-year Arena Football League career. 

    One of Peyton Manning's top-targets at Tennessee, wide receiver Marcus Nash, enjoyed success in the AFL as well. Nash had five 1,000-yard seasons and was the league's Offensive Player of the Year in 2004. 

     

    Sources for stats: www.pro-football-reference.com, www.profootballhof.com, utsports.com, cfl.ca