With numerous All-Americans, Tennessee Football has made offensive line a staple of its program. The Vols ran the single-wing for three decades under Robert Neyland and then were led by a former offensive lineman as head coach in Phillip Fulmer for 16 years, producing lots of great talent. Here are the 10 greatest blockers in school history.
10. Anthony Parker – 2007
Arron Sears was an All-American left tackle in 2006, and the Vols’ line was supposed to take a step back after he left in 2007. However, thanks to what Anthony Parker was able to do at guard, with help from Ramon Foster and Eric Young also on the line, there was dramatic improvement. UT was sacked a school-record low three times, and Arian Foster became a 1,000-yard rusher.
9. Bob Suffridge – 1939
The Golden Age of Tennessee Football was led by George Cafego at halfback running behind All-Americans Ed Molinski and Bob Suffridge. Of the two, Suffridge was the bigger star, so he gets the nod. Suffridge is the only three-time All-American in school history, from 1938 to 1940, but his 1939 season was his best. He followed the legacy Herman Hickman started at guard in Neyland’s single wing in 1931.
8. Michael Munoz – 2004
Although Sears turned out to be a better tackle overall, Michael Munoz was the heart and soul of the offensive line that produced two 1,000-yard rushers in 2004, Gerald Riggs Jr. and Cedric Houston the only time in history the Vols have done that. He had an All-American season that year blocking for three different quarterbacks, and while injuries limited his NFL career, this should be a point of pride.
7. Ted Daffer – 1951
Running back Hank Lauricella was the Vols’ first Heisman runner-up in 1951. That’s the second best rushing season in UT history, eclipsing the third best in 1950. Ted Daffer was the star guard blocking for both teams. He was the constant, but the 1951 season gets the nod, as it was on another level. There’s a reason the Vols won the national championship that year.
6. Darnell Wright – 2022
Despite no All-American recognition, Darnell Wright had one of the best seasons ever for a tackle in UT history. Wright moved from left tackle to right tackle and shut down Alabama Crimson Tide edge rusher Will Anderson Jr., propelling himself to a top 10 pick. Hendon Hooker’s place in the Heisman race never happens if not for Wright.
5. Chip Kell – 1970
One of the best blockers in the wing-t that Doug Dickey ran in the late 1960s, Chip Kell was a two-time All-American. Although he helped the Vols to an SEC title in 1969, 1970 was his best year, as UT averaged 215 yards a game rushing behind him and went 11-1 with a top four finish. He was blocking alongside Fulmer during these years.
4. Fred Weary – 2001
Coming off a season-ending injury and blocking alongside guys like Reggie Coleman and Will Ofenheusel, Fred Weary paved the way for Travis Stephens’ record-setting rushing season in 2001. Weary should’ve been an All-American and manhandled everybody in front of him. He was the reason Stephens became a Doak Walker finalist.
3. Bob Johnson – 1967
A starting center on the retroactively declared national champions, Bob Johnson was also a two-time All-American, in 1966 and 1967. However, blocking for Dewey Warren and Walter Chadwick in 1967 was his best season. He finished sixth in the Heisman voting as a blocker and was the centerpiece, literally, of the Vols’ best team between Neyland and Johnny Majors.
2. Cosey Coleman – 1998
He was an All-American in 1999, and Chad Clifton deserves praise for what he did in 1998 and 1999 as well, but Cosey Coleman was the central blocker of the 1998 Tennessee Football national championship team. Spencer Riley deserves a shoutout too, to be fair. Anyway, Coleman was the reason the Vols so easily replaced Jamal Lewis and allowed Tee Martin to be himself, so his 1998 season takes the cake.
1. Eric Still – 1989
By far the best rushing season in the history of the Vols, Eric Still blocked alongside bigger names like Antone Davis and Charles McRae. However, he was the best blocker on that 1989 team and the reason the Vols so easily made the transition from Reggie Cobb to Chuck Webb. They also switched from Sterling Henton to Andy Kelly at quarterback and still went 11-1 and won the SEC.