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  • #51 by jbcarol on 15 Jul 2017

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    Willis is on the ballot for the College Football Hall of Fame's Class of 2018.

    Willis played for Ole Miss from 2003 through 2006. The most recent SEC member of the College Football Hall of Fame to play in the league is Tennessee quarterback Peyton Manning, whose final season with the Volunteers came in 1997 [or Danny Wuerfful.]

    SEC Defensive Player of the Year Award for the 2006 season, Willis also received the Butkus Award as the nation's best linebacker and merited consensus All-American recognition as an Ole Miss senior.

    Willis led the SEC in tackles as a junior and as a senior.
  • #52 by jbcarol on 16 Jul 2017

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    Tennessee halfback was the SEC's first Player of the Year and the conference's first consensus All-American. The first Heisman Trophy wasn't awarded until two years after Feathers' senior season. Often, "retro" Heisman Trophy picks have Feathers as the 1933 winner had the award been around at the time.

    Feathers scored 32 touchdowns in his 30 games at Tennessee. The Volunteers had a 25-3-2 record in those games. He also held the school record for career rushing yards for 37 years.

    In 1955, Feathers became the fourth SEC player enshrined in the College Football Hall of Fame, following Alabama's Don Hutson, Ole Miss' Bruiser Kinard and Georgia's Frank Sinkwich.

    With the Chicago Bears, he became the first NFL player to rush for 1,000 yards in a season, and he still holds the league single-season record for the highest yards-per-carry average for a player with at least 100 rushing attempts.
  • #53 by jbcarol on 17 Jul 2017

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    Pollack won the first SEC Defensive Player of the Year Award presented by the conference in 2002, and he won it again in 2004. He's the only player to win it twice.

    In 2004, Pollack received the Bednarik Award as the nation's best defensive player, the Lombardi Award as the nation's best lineman or linebacker and the Lott IMPACT Trophy, which considers personal character and athletic excellence to determine the nation's top defensive player. He also won the Hendricks Award as the nation's best defensive end in 2003 and 2004.

    Pollack earned first-team All-SEC recognition in 2002, 2003 and 2004. He was a consensus All-American in 2002 and 2004. In between, the American Football Coaches Association named him a first-team All-American in 2003.
  • #54 by jbcarol on 18 Jul 2017

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    SEC was very good in the BCS, with a team from the conference winning the big game nine times, including the first one, when Tennessee defeated Florida State 23-16 in the Fiesta Bowl to cap an undefeated season.

    Raynoch Thompson was the leading tackler and an All-SEC linebacker for those 13-0 Volunteers.

    The next season, Thompson was All-SEC again. In 1999, Thompson also was a first-team All-American selection by The Associated Press and the American Football Coaches Association.

    Then Thompson left Tennessee for the NFL with a season of eligibility remaining. He started every game in his three collegiate seasons, with the Volunteers compiling a 21-3 league record and a 33-5 overall mark and winning the SEC championships for the 1997 and 1998 seasons. Tennessee finished in the top nine nationally in rushing defense and scoring defense in 1998 and 1999.
  • #55 by jbcarol on 19 Jul 2017

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    SEC football fans remember Johnny Majors as the Tennessee coach who had heart surgery and lost his job to Phillip Fulmer.

    But before that, Majors had one of the best careers in SEC history as the last of the conference's great single-wing tailbacks.

    A true triple threat, Majors led the SEC in total offense in 1955 and 1956 - with his yardage almost evenly divided between rushing and passing - and finished third in the nation in punting average in 1956.

    Majors won the SEC Player of the Year Award in 1955 and 1956.

    Tennessee won the SEC championship and posted a 10-0 regular-season record in 1956.

    That season, Majors earned unanimous All-American recognition and was edged out for the Heisman Trophy by Notre Dame's Paul Hornung, even though the Fighting Irish posted a 2-8 record in 1956.

    Majors joined the College Football Hall of Fame in 1987. He's one of the three SEC players who wore No. 45 in the football shrine, along with Florida split end Carlos Alvarez and Tulane halfback Eddie Price.
  • #56 by jbcarol on 20 Jul 2017

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    Despite being the SEC's most famous No. 44, Forrest Gump, a fictional Alabama All-American, will not be the choice of the Countdown today.



    Instead, the Countdown keeps it all in the family: No. 44 is the brother of No. 45. And if one-platoon football and the single wing had still been in vogue when Bobby Majors played at Tennessee, it seems likely he would have been a triple-threat tailback as his brother Johnny Majors had been for the Volunteers.

    But in 1969, when Bobby Majors reached the Volunteers' varsity, those things had receded into the game's past. Instead, Majors played safety for the Volunteers. But he got his hands on the ball as a punt and kickoff returner, and, in his final two seasons, he did the punting for Tennessee, too.

    In 1970, Majors became the fourth SEC player to intercept 10 passes in a season.

    In 1970 and 1971, Majors earned All-SEC honors. In 1971, he was a unanimous All-American selection.

    During Majors' three seasons, Tennessee posted a combined SEC record of 13-4 and an overall mark of 30-5. 



  • #57 by jbcarol on 21 Jul 2017

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    Bama won the first SEC Championship Game 28-21 over Florida in 1992 when cornerback Antonio Langham intercepted a pass by quarterback Shane Matthews and returned it 27 yards for the game-deciding touchdown with 3:16 left to play.

    That sent the undefeated Crimson Tide on to a showdown with top-ranked Miami (Fla.) in the Sugar Bowl, where Alabama defeated the Hurricanes 34-13 to claim its first national championship since 1979.

    Langham earned All-SEC honors in 1992. The next season, his recognition rose to unanimous All-American, and the former Hazlewood High standout also became the first of seven SEC players to win the Thorpe Award, presented annually to the nation's best defensive back.

    Langham tied for the conference lead in interceptions in 1992 and 1993, and his career total of 19 ranks tied for third in the SEC all-time...
  • #58 by jbcarol on 22 Jul 2017

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    Bob Suffridge's coach at Tennessee, Gen. Robert Neyland, called the guard "the greatest lineman I ever saw."

    As a pulling guard in the Volunteers' single-wing attack, Suffridge cleared the way for two SEC Player of the Year award winners - George Cafego in 1938 and Bob Foxx in 1939.

    On defense, Suffridge played for a unit that gave up 75 points in 33 games.

    Suffridge earned All-SEC recognition in all three of his varsity seasons and was a first-team All-American each year, too. As a sophomore, Suffridge was on United Press' All-American team. As a junior, he narrowly missed consensus recognition as he was a first-team selection for four of the nine organizations used by the NCAA at the time to compile the consensus All-American squad. In 1940, Suffridge was a unanimous All-American - a first-team choice of all nine consensus selectors.

    As a senior, Suffridge also received the Knute Rockne Memorial Trophy...
  • #59 by jbcarol on 23 Jul 2017

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    Three SEC No. 41's are in the College Football Hall of Fame. Mississippi State's Tom "Shorty" McWilliams isn't one of them.

    But the MSU No. 41 did a couple of things that eluded the collegiate careers of the three Hall of Famers - Ole Miss fullback Charlie Flowers and tailback Parker Hall and Alabama center Vaughn "Cisco" Mancha.

    McWilliams earned first-team All-SEC recognition after all four of his seasons at Mississippi State, and he was the SEC Player of the Year, receiving the award as a freshman in 1944.

    What McWilliams' resume lacks that the other three No. 41's have, in addition to College Football Hall of Fame membership, is first-team All-American recognition - at least while playing in the SEC.

    Flowers was a unanimous All-American in 1959, when he led the SEC in rushing and scoring, even though LSU's Billy Cannon won the Heisman Trophy that season. Hall was a consensus All-American in 1938, when he had one of the great seasons recorded by an SEC player - leading the nation in return yards, points and yards per carry, placing second in interceptions and finishing third in rushing yards. Mancha was a consensus All-America as a sophomore in 1945, when the Crimson Tide capped an undefeated season with a Rose Bowl victory.

    War time All-Americans
  • #60 by jbcarol on 24 Jul 2017

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    Georgia running back Herschel Walker has been the SEC's career rushing leader for 35 years. That's the longest any player has held that record, and it's such a span that football fans today might have a difficult time naming any of the ball-carriers that were No. 1 in rushing yards in the SEC's history before Walker.

    The player who held the conference's top spot for career rushing the longest before Walker was Tulane's Eddie Price, the only player to reach 3,000 rushing yards in the SEC's first 42 seasons.

    The second to do so - and the player who replaced Price in the No. 1 spot - was Kentucky's Sonny Collins.

    Collins compiled 3,835 rushing yards for the Wildcats to surpass Price by 720 yards.

    Collins started his record-setting career with 502 rushing yards as a freshman. Then came three seasons as a first-team All-SEC running back.

    In 1973, Collins led the SEC with 1,213 rushing yards and 13 touchdowns to earn the SEC Player of the Year Award. He was the first African-American player to receive that honor as he became Kentucky's first 1,000-yard rusher.

    Last year Sonny Collins ran the 100 meters in 12.89 to break his age group's state record by 2.37 seconds.  He was 65.  His 28.7 200 took that record down by 3.34 seconds. He also won the 400 in 1:10.08.

  • #61 by jbcarol on 25 Jul 2017
  • #62 by jbcarol on 26 Jul 2017

  • Quote
    Tennessee set an SEC single-season record for rushing yards per game in 1951 of 306.8, a mark that stood until the wishbone era and still ranks seventh in conference history.

    Hank Lauricella was the star back for the Volunteers and finished second in the Heisman Trophy balloting in 1951. But the pulling guard played a key role in the single-wing attack of coach Robert Neyland, and that's where John Michels came in.

    Playing on Neyland's final three Tennessee teams, Michels helped the Volunteers roll up a 14-1-1 SEC record and a 29-3-1 overall mark from 1950 through 1952.

    The 1951 Volunteers became the first SEC team to top the final Associated Press and coaches polls of the season.

    That was in the days when the final polls came out at the end of the regular season and before the "extra-curricular" bowls. Tennessee had a 10-0 regular-season record in 1951, but lost to undefeated and third-ranked Maryland 28-13 in the Sugar Bowl...

    Michels was an All-SEC selection in 1951. In 1952, he repeated that honor, won the Jacobs Trophy as the conference's best blocker and earned consensus All-American recognition.

    In 1996, Michels was tabbed for the College Football Hall of Fame. In 2009, he was joined there by another SEC No. 38 - Auburn fullback Ed Dyas, who also had been a record-setting place-kicker.
  • #63 by jbcarol on 27 Jul 2017

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    No. 37 hasn't been worn by a parade of All-Americans from the SEC, as some jersey numbers have. But what 37 may lack in quantity, it makes up for in quality. The SEC's No. 37's include:

        Three College Football Hall of Fame members: LSU's Tommy Casanova, Vanderbilt's Carl Hinkle and Tennessee's Bowden Wyatt (who also is enshrined as a coach).
        Two three-time first-team All-SEC selections: Casanova and Alabama's Bobby Johns.
        Two SEC Players of the Year: Hinkle and Alabama's Shaun Alexander.
        Three consensus All-Americans: Casanova, Johns and Wyatt.

    One of the players was a consensus All-American twice. Casanova earned that recognition for the 1970 and 1971 seasons after receiving first-team All-American recognition by The Football News in 1969.

    When the 1971 season arrived, Sports Illustrated declared Casanova as the "best player in the nation." It didn't work out that way...
  • #64 by jbcarol on 28 Jul 2017

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    Robert Neyland coached 11 future College Football Hall of Fame players at Tennessee. Four of them were guards, including Ed Molinski.

    It was the Volunteers' good fortune that they had Molinski and Bob Suffridge as their guards from 1938 through 1940. During those seasons, Tennessee went 18-0 in SEC play, won all 30 of its regular-season games and produced two SEC Players of the Year - George Cafego in 1938 and Bob Foxx in 1939.

    Inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame in 1961, Suffridge received first-team All-SEC recognition in all three of his seasons, and first-team All-American recognition in each year, too, earning consensus All-American status in 1940.

    Robert Neyland coached 11 future College Football Hall of Fame players at Tennessee. Four of them were guards, including Ed Molinski.

    It was the Volunteers' good fortune that they had Molinski and Bob Suffridge as their guards from 1938 through 1940. During those seasons, Tennessee went 18-0 in SEC play, won all 30 of its regular-season games and produced two SEC Players of the Year - George Cafego in 1938 and Bob Foxx in 1939.

    Inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame in 1961, Suffridge received first-team All-SEC recognition in all three of his seasons, and first-team All-American recognition in each year, too, earning consensus All-American status in 1940.

    Molinski didn't get into the College Football Hall of Fame until 1990, but he did beat Suffridge to consensus All-American recognition. Molinski earned that accolade in 1939, when Tennessee didn't give up a point in 10 regular-season games. This was in the days of one-platoon football, with Molinski manning one of the inside line positions in the Volunteers' 6-2-2-1 defense.

    In his other two seasons, Molinski was a second-team All-SEC choice, but was still a first-team All-American selection by The Sporting News in 1940.
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