The Tennessee Volunteers have had some incredible players don the orange and white since they started playing football in 1891. What would the ultimate Vols dream team look like?
Tennessee has nearly 800 wins, 38 consensus All-Americans, six national championships and 16 conference titles. The Vols have 22 former players and coaches that have been inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame. That's tops in the SEC and seventh most in major college football.
With all the success in one of the nation's most storied programs, the all-time dream team is an amazing list of legends.
General Neyland's Vols were173-31-12, won seven conference titles and four national championships. From 1926 to 1932, Neyland's first seven years as head coach, Tennessee went 61-2-5.
Neyland was called away twice during his coaching career. The first time he was called to active military duty for one year in Panama. The second time was World War II, where he served in the Pacific, supervising the transportation of material through monsoons and across the Himalayas. Yeah, he was a boss.
The 1939 team coached by the general was the last team to never allow a single point in the regular season.
I don't even need to explain this one.
Peyton Manning is revered above all others at the University of Tennessee.
Battling the star power of Jamal Lewis and the equally gritty play of Travis Stephens, Travis Henry had to fight his entire career to prove himself.
And prove himself he did!
Henry remains the top rusher in Volunteer history with 3,078 yards. He was there to pick up the pieces after a seemingly devastating injury to Jamal Lewis in 1998. He did fine, averaging 5.5 yards per carry that season.
In Phillip Fulmer's heyday, the Power-I formation was spearheaded by numerous powerful fullbacks. The best of them was Will Bartholomew.
Bartholomew played for the Vols from 1998 to 2001, helping Travis Henry and Jamal Lewis reach the top four of all-time rushers at Tennessee.
You won't confuse him with the more electric fullback Shawn Bryson, but no one was more important for Tennessee's run game than Bartholomew.
Peyton Manning's top target on Rocky Top was Joey Kent. Not only is Kent the most prolific receiver in Vol history, he is our quarterback's favorite pair of hands.
Kent still holds the record for career yards (2,814), touchdowns (25) and receptions (183). He is tied with Carl Pickens for the most receptions in a game with 13.
His 80-yard touchdown catch to begin the 1995 game against Alabama is still talked about at pregame tailgates.
One of the my first memories of Tennessee Volunteers football is Marcus Nash's 73-yard game-winning touchdown catch in the 1997 SEC Championship. I can still see those arms pumping high beside his ears, as was his style.
Nash ranks second in most school records, including career yards and receptions and is third in touchdowns.
His 1997 season remains one of the greatest in school history—1,170 yards and 13 touchdowns.
At a traditionally boring position for the Vols, Jason Witten was a phenom while in Knoxville.
He is unquestionably the best receiving tight to ever wear Tennessee orange and is my vote for best overall tight end.
He holds single-season records for receptions and receiving yards by a tight end and also has a very memorable overtime catch against Arkansas in 2002.
Antone Davis was a mountain of a man but also could do a little blocking from the tackle position.
He was named the SEC's top blocker in 1990, earning the Jacobs Trophy. Davis also received All-American status after 1990 before going eighth overall in the 1991 NFL Draft.
Never heard of Bob Suffridge? Well then you, my friend, are not a fan of the Tennessee Volunteers.
For those that don't know, Suffridge is the only player in Tennessee history to be named an All-American three times, in 1938, 1939 and 1940.
He recorded a perfect 30-0 during his regular season career in Knoxville, all under the great General Robert Neyland. It would be fun to see this slight, gritty guard play today.
A two-time All-American from Cleveland, Tennessee, Bob Johnson was Doug Dickey's first-ever recruit. He helped turn turn a 4-5-1 team in 1964 to a 9-2 national champion in 1967.
Johnson's conversion from tackle to center led to back-to-back All-American honors in 1966 and 1967 before spending 11 years in the NFL with the Cincinnati Bengals, where his No. 54 is retired.
There's not a whole lot to say about a stud offensive guard, and that's just how they like it. Cosey Coleman was just a big, strong player who did his job superbly.
Coleman won two SEC Championships and one national championship while blocking for some of Tennessee's best rushers in history during his tenure.
He was named an All-American in 1999.
Chad Clifton was the model of consistency at Tennessee, just as he was in his terrific 11-year NFL career.
During his four years as a Vol, Clifton was a fixture on the offensive line, starting three full years at the all-important left tackle position. He kept such legends as Peyton Manning and Tee Martin upright.
From 1996 to 1999, Clifton's Vols were 43-7.
Reggie White, like Peyton Manning, is a no-brainer. He has every conceivable sack record for Tennessee.
White is also a member of both the College and Pro Football Halls of Fame.
Try to forget the circus that Albert Haynesworth's professional career has been. While at Tennessee, he was a beast.
Similar to his NFL tendency, Haynesworth would take a few plays off from time to time, limiting his own potential. But there were moments of pure domination when not even the most talented of offensive lineman could keep Albert from reaching the quarterback.
Playing alongside Albert Haynesworth was an equally effective and more mature John Henderson. Henderson was a constant force on the line and was dependable for Tennessee.
He led the Vols to a school record 817 rushing yards allowed in 2000. That same year he earned All-American honors and won the Outland Trophy, given to the nation's best lineman.
Fighting through a lingering ankle injury, Henderson earned All-American honors again his senior year in 2001 before heading to Jacksonville in the first round of the 2002 NFL Draft.
Along with Reggie White, Doug Atkins is the only other Vol to be inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame. His sterling NFL career was preceded by an equally impressive college career.
Atkins is considered by many to be the greatest defensive lineman in SEC history and is one of seven players to have his number retired by the Tennessee Volunteers. He's one of just three to have it retired for on-field play (the other four were honored for the ultimate sacrifice in World War II).
Atkins ended his career with a national championship and two All-American honors.
I can read your mind: When you saw the name Leonard Little, you chuckled under breath, remembering the kind of hits he leveled.
It's the first thing that comes to every Vol fan's mind when thinking about Little. Perhaps the most athletic player in Tennessee defensive history, Little spent time at middle linebacker, outside linebacker and defensive end, equally destructive at each.
Al Wilson's tough demeanor is legendary in Neyland Stadium.
His inclusion on this list is a no-doubter, as he led such stars as Leonard Little and Raynoch Thompson into the trenches of SEC linebacker play.
Primarily a middle linebacker while at Tennessee, we'll move Andy Spiva to Al Wilson's side to make sure we include him on this list. He is overlooked far too often.
Spiva owns virtually every tackles record at Tennessee more than 30 years after he set them. He has the most career hits (547), tackles (354), assisted tackles (193) and forced fumbles (14) in school history. He also has the most hits (194), tackles (134) and forced fumbles (7) in a single season in school history.
Spiva's stellar 1976 season is probably the best ever by a Volunteer linebacker.
I love Eric Berry, but Bobby Majors' 1971 season might be the most notable performance by any Tennessee defensive back.
Majors tallied 89 tackles and reeled in an incredible 10 interceptions, which remains a school record. His tremendous season earned him All-American status.
He also returned 117 punts during his three years as a Vol for 1,163 yards and four touchdowns.
Let's not be shy about saying it: Eric Berry is the greatest defensive back in Tennessee Volunteer history. He ranks with Doug Atkins and Reggie White as the greatest overall defender in school history, too.
In just three years on Rocky Top, Berry was named National Freshman and Sophomore Defensive Player of the Year, voted by coaches to three First-team All-SEC squads, won the Jim Thorpe Award given to the nation's top defensive back and earned unanimous Freshman All-American honors and consecutive unanimous All-American honors.
He was simply the best. His 14 career interceptions ties him for fifth all-time in school history, and his 494 interception return yards are just seven behind the all-time NCAA record. A senior season would've made the record his for sure.
Though Eric Berry was a fantastic interceptor, no one roamed the open field like Deon Grant. He was a natural free safety, evidenced by his production.
Like Berry, Grant racked up 14 interceptions in just three years before leaving early for the NFL, where he won a Super Bowl with the New York Giants.
Grant intercepted nine passes in 1999, second on the all-time single-season list at Tennessee and was named a consensus All-American.
Dale Carter was known as an electric returner, but he was also one of the best cornerbacks to play at Tennessee.
In 1990, he was named to the All-American team as a returner, but in his second consecutive appearance as an All-American in 1991, he returned as a defensive back.
Carter only played two years as a Volunteer, but leaving him off this list would be unjust.
Before Britton there was Dustin. Before Dustin there was Craig. But after Craig there was Jimmy, the best of the great family of Tennessee punters.
Uncle Craig owned every conceivable punting record when Jimmy arrived, but by the time he left, they were all his. Dustin came close to a few, but they still belong to Jimmy today.
Jimmy earned consecutive All-American honors in 1982 and 1983, and the prowess of his and his nephews' performances have left Vol fans waiting for the next Colquitt.
Jeff Hall may belong here because of the number of clutch kicks he made during the 1998 national championship run, but it has to go to Fuad Reveiz.
Reveiz ranks second among Volunteer kickers with a 75 percent career field goal percentage. What's even more amazing is that many of those makes were on extremely long kicks.
Reveiz owns eight of the top 19 longest field goals in Tennessee history. The top spot, a 60-yard boot, is his all to himself.
Reveiz also gave Tennessee with one of its most passionate competitors, his son Nick.
Let's wrap up on an easy one. Willie Gault's unbelievable speed carried him to the top of the Tennessee record books in most return categories.
Gault has the most career kickoff returns, kickoff return yards, total returns and total return yards in school history. He alternates with Dale Carter for three of the top five best single-season return years at Tennessee and was named an All-American in 1982.