Take your pick from 50 years of All-Vols
By Mike Strange News-Sentinel sportswriter
Recently I was asked by another publication to pick an All-Vols football team
from the past 50 years. Today, I submit what turned out to be a difficult list to
Difficult, because there are so many worthy candidates. In fact, today's list
contains a couple of revisions from the original of a couple of weeks ago. I
even left off three of UT's four Heisman runner-ups.
Difficult, because college football has changed so much between 1948 and
1998. How do you compare a 180-pound lineman from the Neyland era to
Cosey Coleman? In some cases, it's almost apples and oranges.
Especially difficult because I never saw Ted Daffer or John Gordy or Jackie
Walker, etc. The 1984 season was my first on the beat, but I tried not to
favor the players from my era. I tried to consider the older candidates
measured against their own era, rather than whether they could, say, cover
Still, there were cases when first-hand knowledge of a player's impact made a
difference. In the end, 13 of the 28 picks played on my watch.
Any such list is an exercise in subjectivity. What were the criteria? Whatever I
wanted them to be. I looked hard at consensus All-Americans and multiple
All-SEC honors and gave school records and stats lesser consideration. Alas,
Hank and Johnny, there's no single-wing tailback on my team.
Quarterback: Peyton Manning (1994-97). Easy pick.
Tailback: Chuck Webb (1989-90). He only played 12 full games before the
knee injury, but he's the best. This time next year, Jamal Lewis could win this
Fullback: Curt Watson (1969-71). Two-time All-SEC pick. Fourth on UT's
all-time rushing list.
Receiver: Carl Pickens (1989-91). He had the package -- hands, size,
toughness, enough speed.
Receiver: Larry Seivers (1974-76). I've seen enough clips of this guy to wish
I'd been around for his career.
Receiver: Peerless Price (1995-98). A tough call over Joey Kent, but the
big-play impact he had last year puts Price over the top.
Tight end: Ken DeLong (1967-69). Two-time All-SEC first-teamer. Did UT
throw to the tight ends back then?
Offensive tackle: Antone Davis (1987-90). Made All-SEC at guard and
Offensive tackle: Bruce Wilkerson (1983-86). Close call over Jason Layman.
Both were two-time All-SEC picks.
Guard: Chip Kell (1968-70). Two-time consensus All-American.
Guard: Cosey Coleman (1997-??). He's not done yet, but should vindicate his
selection over Harry Galbreath, John Michels or Eric Still.
Center: Bob Johnson (1965-67). Paul Brown would agree.
Defensive end: Doug Atkins (1950-52). Easiest pick of all.
Defensive end: Leonard Little (1995-97). Better here than middle linebacker.
Defensive tackle: Reggie White (1980-83). One great year ('83) does the
Defensive tackle: Bill Pearman (1948-51). All-American on '51 national
Middle guard: Steve DeLong (1962-64). There aren't any more middle
guards, but UT's only Outland Trophy winner must be included.
Linebacker: Steve Kiner (1967-69). Two-time consensus All-American.
Linebacker: Andy Spiva (1973-76). UT's all-time tackles leader.
Linebacker: Al Wilson (1995-98). All-American could play outside or inside.
Defensive back: Roland James (1976-79). Four-year starter was a '79
Defensive back: Bobby Majors (1969-71). Two-time All-SEC; made
All-America in '71.
Defensive back: Dale Carter (1990-91). Junior college transfer was special
for two years.
Defensive back: Bert Rechichar (1949-51). Anyone who can recall the
Neyland years insists he was one of the best athletes ever to play at UT.
Kicker: Jeff Hall (1995-98). By a hair over Fuad Reveiz. Reveiz hit nine field
goals beyond the 50, but Hall became the SEC career scoring leader and won
three big games on last-second kicks.
Punter: Jimmy Colquitt (1981-84). His 43.9-yard career average on 201
punts surpasses Craig Colquitt and Ron Widby.
Kickoff returns: Willie Gault (1979-82). Dale Carter's average was better, but
Gault broke more long ones.
Punt returns: Terry Fair (1994-97). He averaged 14.0 yards and took a
couple all the way. You could make a case for flip-flopping Fair and
Rechichar at their respective slots.
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