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Duane Cross | | September 16, 2014

Pillars of the Program: Tennessee

Pillars of the Program: Tennessee football

The top three pillars of the program are in the video above -- now check out who just missed the cut ...

Boasting arguably the most recognizable ditty in college football, Tennessee proudly displays six national championship trophies atop ol' Rocky Top. Beginning play in 1891, the Vols did not have a head coach for the first six seasons. However, Tennessee became a powerhouse under Gen. Robert Neyland, who was 173-31-12 and won four national championships in 21 seasons.

Aside from 102,000-plus orange-clad fanatics, Tennessee's Neyland Stadium is known for playing host to the Pride of the Southland Band -- which forms a "T" for the Volunteers to run through before the game -- and its orange-and-white checkerboard end zones. Tennessee is 806-361-53 -- the eighth-most wins in college football history -- and 447-118-17 at Neyland Stadium. The Vols are one of only two teams (Ohio State) that have never lost eight games in a season.

Peyton Manning
Quarterback | 1994-97
♦ All-American (1997)
♦ Maxwell, Unitas, O'Brien ('97)
Reggie White
Defensive Tackle | 1980-83
♦ All-American (1983)
♦ 293 tackles, 32 sacks, 19 TFL
Doug Atkins
Defensive End | 1950-52
♦ All-American (1952)
♦ SEC Player of Quarter-Century (1950-75)
Bobby Dodd
Quarterback | 1928-30
♦ All-American (1930)
♦ CFB HOF as player and coach
Condredge Holloway
Quarterback | 1972-74
♦ 3,102 yards passing, 18 TDs
♦ 966 yards rushing, 9 TDs
Hank Lauricella
Running Back | 1949-51
♦ All-American (1951)
♦ Heisman Trophy runner-up ('51)
Johnny Majors
Running Back | 1954-56
♦ All-American (1956)
♦ Heisman Trophy runner-up ('56)
Gene McEver
Running Back | 1928-29, '31
♦ All-American (1929)
♦ 1929: NCAA-best 130 pts. scored

Bobby Dodd
Named after Confederate General Robert E. Lee, Robert Lee “Bobby” Dodd was 27-1-2 as the Tennessee quarterback from 1928-30, including consecutive 9-0-1 seasons. (However, most fans probably know the name more for Dodd's time at Georgia Tech, which named its football stadium in honor of the legendary coach.)

While Dodd was under center, the Volunteers’ unbeaten streak reached 33 games without a loss – the longest unbeaten streak in UT history – before losing to Alabama in 1930. Tennessee then reeled off a 28-game unbeaten streak, which ranks as the program’s second longest unbeaten streak. Dodd was inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame as a player in 1959 and as a coach in 1993.

Condredge Holloway
The SEC’s first black starting quarterback, “The Artful Dodger” was the epitome of razzle dazzle during his playing career. Holloway was 25-9-2 and led Tennessee to three consecutive bowl games (1972-74).

Drafted fourth overall by the Montreal Expos in the 1971 MLB Draft, Holloway also was the first black baseball player for the Vols. He was the only UT student-athlete selected to Tennessee's All-Century baseball and football teams. He threw only 12 INTs in 407 attempts, marking the best interception-to-attempt ratio (1:33.9) in UT history. However, Holloway's most famous play was an interception – a mistake that he corrected …

Hank Lauricella
Running the single-wing offense, Lauricella was Tennessee’s offensive juggernaut between 1949-51, rolling up 1,595 rushing yards and passing for 1,146 yards and 29 touchdowns. The Vols were 28-4-1 during Lauricella’s career, including 20 consecutive wins, and UT won the national championship his senior year. He finished second to Princeton’s Dick Kazmaier in Heisman Trophy voting in 1951.

Lauricella, who was inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame in 1981, had what many considered the most memorable run in UT annals. In the 1951 Cotton Bowl, he set up UT's first score in a 20-14 win against Texas.

Johnny Majors
Before Johnny came marching home in 1977 as the Volunteers’ 19th head coach (1977-92), he was a triple threat in the Tennessee backfield from 1954-56. Majors was an All-America selection in 1956 – passing for 552 yards with five touchdowns and rushing for 549 yards and seven scores – as UT finished 10-1 and No. 2 in the final AP poll.

He was runner-up for the Heisman Trophy in ’56; the award went to Notre Dame’s Paul Hornung, the only time the Heisman has been awarded to a player on a losing team. Majors finished with 25 TDs in 30 regular-season games, and was inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame in 1987.

Gene McEver
The “Bristol Blizzard” was Tennessee’s first All-America player, as McEver led the NCAA in scoring in 1929 with 130 points – a mark that still stands as the Volunteers’ single-season record. He also was named to the All-America team in ’29. During his career, McEver scored 44 touchdowns and 12 PATs for 276 points, the most for a non-kicker in UT annals.

Legendary Tennessee head coach Gen. Robert Neyland claimed McEver was “the best player I ever coached … the best I ever saw.” UT was 27-0-3 with McEver, and in 1954 he was the first UT player to be inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame.


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