Adams: All-Fulmer team was easy to pick

John Adams

Tennessee had only one player taken in this year's NFL draft. And safety Eric Berry might be its only preseason first-team All-SEC pick when the votes are tabulated at the SEC football media days in Birmingham, Ala., in two weeks.

But that's not how UT fans will always remember the Phillip Fulmer coaching era. They also will remember it for all the talented players who passed through here on the way to the NFL.

If you really want to appreciate the talent assembled under Fulmer in his 16-year run as UT's head coach, try picking the best players at each position during his era. Many of those players excelled in the NFL as well as the SEC.

I'll give you one hint about my All-Fulmer team. The quarterback is still playing professionally, and he's not Erik Ainge.

If you really want to appreciate the talent assembled under Fulmer in his 16-year run as UT's head coach, try picking the best players at each position during his era.

Some of the picks are almost as obvious as the quarterback. For example, a certain middle linebacker on the 1998 national championship team comes to mind.

In selecting the team, it reminded me how much better Fulmer recruited in the 1990s. It's also noteworthy how much he upgraded UT's defense.

Never mind that Fulmer was an offensive guard at UT and coached on the offensive side of the ball throughout his career. He made defense a priority in building UT's national championship team.

In Fulmer's first three seasons as head coach - from 1993 through 1995 - only one defensive player, cornerback DeRon Jenkins, made first-team All-SEC. In his next three years as head coach, nine Vols made first-team defense.

That was the beginning of a trend. In Fulmer's last 10 years - from 1999 through 2008 - 20 defensive players made first-team All-SEC, compared to 11 on offense.

That's a testament to defensive coordinator John Chavis as well as Fulmer. Chavis, who is now the defensive coordinator at LSU, also was successful in developing linebackers at UT. His hit list includes first-round NFL draft picks Al Wilson and Jerod Mayo,

The decline on offense had more to do with the drop-off that led to Fulmer's firing last season. In the 1990s, three of his quarterbacks - Heath Shuler, Peyton Manning and Tee Martin - made first-team All-SEC. Martin, in 1999, was his last quarterback to make All-SEC.

The caliber of running backs was even more indicative of UT's slide.

In Fulmer's first nine seasons as UT's head coach, the running backs included a slew of future NFL players like Charlie Garner, Aaron Hayden, James Stewart, Jay Graham, Jamal Lewis and Travis Henry.

Garner rushed for more than 7,000 yards and had 91 pass receptions in a single season during his NFL career. Stewart rushed for almost 6,000 yards and twice had 1,000-plus yards rushing in an NFL season. Henry rushed for more than 6,000. Lewis has rushed for more than 10,000 yards and almost broke the NFL single-season rushing record in 2003 when he gained 2,066 yards.

UT hasn't had those kind of running backs in the last seven years. Travis Stephens, in 2001, was the last Vols running back to make first-team All-SEC.

When you review the Fulmer era, you see a number of good players at almost every position. But in most cases, it's not that difficult to pick the best of the best.

OFFENSE

QB - Peyton Manning: He's on the short list for best NFL quarterback - ever.

RB - Jamal Lewis: Dominant as a true freshman once he finally got a chance (post-Florida), then almost broke Eric Dickerson's single-season NFL rushing record with the Ravens.

RB - Travis Henry: UT's all-time leading rusher, he later became a Pro Bowl running back with the Buffalo Bills.

FB - Shawn Bryson: Amidst all of the big plays of the national championship season, don't forget his touchdown run against the Gators.

WR - Joey Kent: UT's leader in career pass receptions, and Manning's go-to guy.

WR - Peerless Price: He made one big catch after another in UT's national championship season.

TE - Jason Witten: Under utilized as a Vol, he has become a star with the Dallas Cowboys.

T - Arron Sears: Named the SEC's outstanding blocker in 2006, he became a starter with the Tampa Bay Bucs in the first game of his rookie season.

T - Chad Clifton: A two-time All-SEC pick, he has been a fixture in the Green Bay Packers offensive line since his rookie season.

G - Cosey Coleman: Another two-time All-SEC pick, he started 92 games in the NFL.

G - Fred Weary: An All-SEC guard at UT, he became a starter as a rookie with the Houston Texans.

C - Scott Wells: A four-year starter at UT, he has started the last three years for the Green Bay Packers.

PK - Jeff Hall: Another four-year starter, he excelled when it mattered most during UT's national championship season.

DEFENSE

E - Leonard Little: Although he played linebacker as a senior, he has been at his best as a pass-rushing end, first at UT and later in the NFL.

E - Shaun Ellis: A first-team All-SEC pick in 1999, he has been a longtime starter with the New York Jets.

T - John Henderson: He won the Outland Trophy at UT and is a two-time Pro Bowler with the Jacksonville Jaguars.

T - Darwin Walker: Although Albert Haynesworth might be the most dominant defensive tackle in the NFL, Walker - a twotime All-SEC player - was more productive at UT.

LB - Al Wilson: The star and leader of the 1998 national championship team, he was a five-time Pro Bowler with the Denver Broncos.

LB - Jerod Mayo: An All-SEC player at UT, he was the NFL defensive rookie of the year in 2008.

LB - Raynoch Thompson: A UT All-American in 1999, he played five years in the NFL.

CB - Terry Fair: A two-time All-SEC pick at UT, he played six years in the NFL.

CB - Dwayne Goodrich: A three-year starter at UT, his interception return for a touchdown was one of the biggest plays of the national championship game against Florida State.

S - Deon Grant: A consensus All-American in 1999, he has played nine seasons in the NFL.

S - Eric Berry: A first-team All-American last year as a sophomore, he's already regarded as one of the best players in UT history.

P - Dustin Colquitt: UT's punter from 2001 through 2004, he made All-American in 2003.

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Comments » 76

kiffownsfla writes:

Them days will return.

gohawks1 writes:

Al Wilson
Eric Berry
Peyton Manning
Albert Haynesworth
John Henderson

Those come to mind quickly. There are many more.

y9since80 writes:

in response to kiffownsfla:

Them days will return.

And I am thinking soon.

give_him_6 writes:

Is it just me, or did Adams actually show us the list? Or do we have to just guess who they are??

gohawks1 writes:

in response to give_him_6:

Is it just me, or did Adams actually show us the list? Or do we have to just guess who they are??

Kinda wondered that myself.

jigsha (staff) writes:

in response to give_him_6:

Is it just me, or did Adams actually show us the list? Or do we have to just guess who they are??

If you refresh the story, you'll now see Adams's list added to the end of the story.

Jigsha Desai
govolsxtra.com

nicksjuzunk#646117 writes:

in response to give_him_6:

Is it just me, or did Adams actually show us the list? Or do we have to just guess who they are??

That seems to be the case. I would also like to see an "all dud" list that includes the heralded alcolades of some players in high school and their lack of big time college fulfillment. Kenny "Spotted Ape" O'neal, James Banks, etc.

gohawks1 writes:

Totally agree with the Shawn Bryson FB pick. He was good enough to be starting tailback anywhere else.

smashmouth98 writes:

glory days

beatlecakes writes:

I like the opportuntity to reflect and these names and players have to bring a smile and a tear when you think about a specific play that is embedded in your mind when thinking about them. Let me give you one more to reflect on...
John Ward. He called his last game the night we won the national championship. His last words on the radio were "pandominium remains (or something close)." He is an important ingridient in the mix of the most powerful supporters in the nation!
I hope the list of Kiffin's 16 years will be more difficut starting with the stable of running backs that we are about to unleash, run wild and freeze frame defenses all season long!

gohawks1 writes:

in response to beatlecakes:

I like the opportuntity to reflect and these names and players have to bring a smile and a tear when you think about a specific play that is embedded in your mind when thinking about them. Let me give you one more to reflect on...
John Ward. He called his last game the night we won the national championship. His last words on the radio were "pandominium remains (or something close)." He is an important ingridient in the mix of the most powerful supporters in the nation!
I hope the list of Kiffin's 16 years will be more difficut starting with the stable of running backs that we are about to unleash, run wild and freeze frame defenses all season long!

Amen to the John Ward comments. I think John's words were, "Pandemonium reigns!", but I'm not 100% sure on that.

Amen also to the Kiffin prognostication.

gohawks1 writes:

in response to tweetdriver63#346474:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

All good names!

BillVol writes:

One of the best ever in the NFL doesn't matter. I don't care about the Colts. Do you? Tee Martin won a national championship and should be the QB on the All-Fulmer team.

FWBVol writes:

in response to BillVol:

One of the best ever in the NFL doesn't matter. I don't care about the Colts. Do you? Tee Martin won a national championship and should be the QB on the All-Fulmer team.

I don't want to take anything away from Tee Martin because he was a great player at Tennessee, but a quarterback often gets too much credit when things are going well and too much criticism when things are going poorly.

If we hadn't won the National Championship in 1998 would you honestly pick Tee over Peyton?

Yes, Tee made some great plays with his legs to put UT in position to win the Syracuse game, and was unbelievable against South Carolina. He had a great season and deserved the All-SEC recognition and all the other accolades he received that year. But without Al Wilson and the defense playing lights out all year there wouldn't have been a national championship.

Pullingguard writes:

in response to kiffownsfla:

Them days will return.

All Vol fans are hoping but time will only tell. Prove it on the field...

berryballer writes:

in response to PacosBill:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

this makes you look like a fool to give a rats dick.

give_him_6 writes:

in response to jigsha:

If you refresh the story, you'll now see Adams's list added to the end of the story.

Jigsha Desai
govolsxtra.com

Oh, I did more than a few times. I just got back on here at 1am and the rest of his story is FINALLY on. Why post an incomplete story? Not to nickpik...but you are suppose to running the most decorated newspaper sports dept in the state. LoL!! Better late than never.

utclassof1992 writes:

Some other honorable mentions: Heath Shuler, Jerry Colquitt, Nilo Silvan, Jason Layman, Jeff Smith, Bubba Miller, Billy Williams, Craig Faulkner, and Jeremaine Copeland.

KevinMark writes:

in response to BillVol:

One of the best ever in the NFL doesn't matter. I don't care about the Colts. Do you? Tee Martin won a national championship and should be the QB on the All-Fulmer team.

Four outstanding years as opposed to one. That's why Manning's the QB. It's not Manning's fault that Tennessee couldn't beat Florida (go back and look at some of that, ahem, play-calling ... from the coin toss on down). Records aside, Manning's just better than Martin. Face facts.

transplantiam writes:

I agree with list, could add a few more probably, but will CLK's list look as good? CPF put a great team together in "98 and had a sprinkling of good/great talent through the years. IF CLK's first season doesn't produce ?3? it will be a suprise to me. I've followed the Vol's all my life and what CLK's recruited so far has been as impressive as any yr. I can remember, IF they(recruits) prove 80% of their hype, CLK will give us even more great memories, assuming he can keep it up and give us some NC's in the future. I still beam when I think back to 1998! GO VOLS!

tngeoff2 writes:

There once was a fountain that turned to a trickle. Twasn't the coach though was claimed by the fickle. All manner of blame was advanced and proclaimed. The poor mindless maggots were blind, deaf and lame. But the truth did appear and the trickle went dry and Vandy...yes Vandy had passed us on by. Yes Vandy has fans that now are now quite jolly. But right here in Knoxville we live Fulmers folly.

DarthVol writes:

The list has a decidedly NFL slant to it. But any list of all time Fulmer greats that doesn't include Billy Ratliff is a flawed list imo. And that's not based on "the Play". What he gave up physically to contribute to this team should be remembered and respected.

belayvol writes:

Pretty good list.

txvolsfan writes:

That is some talent!!!

I still say that all the arrest was the beginning of the end of the great recruiting classes. It's hard to set in a living room across from parents and say you will take care of their sons when you have so many in the county jail.

I still say that even though the trolls say it doesn't bother them that they to will feel this in future recruiting classes if Cryer doesn't Kiffin up and take a stand.
GO VOLS
TXVOLSFAN

GotPearl writes:

Should have had 2 more National Championships! Great recruiter, sucked as a coach! Glad it is finally over! ITS TIME!!!

ethanfrome writes:

Another way to illustrate that Fulmer fell asleep at the wheel. Thanks for pouring salt on the wound Adams. lol

Thank God we made the change, meaning no disrespect to Fulmer, but thank God.

The only thing about this list is that it seams to base a lot on the player's later success in the NFL, instead of who was really the best UT player at the positions. Still, usually it would be the same name in the slot anyway I guess.

tdtnsee writes:

in response to BillVol:

One of the best ever in the NFL doesn't matter. I don't care about the Colts. Do you? Tee Martin won a national championship and should be the QB on the All-Fulmer team.

That is absurd!!!! While Tee did win us a N.C. Peyton Manning was and always will be the greatest Q.B to ever play for the big orange. He may not have beat the Gators or won a national title, but I do know this if he would have red shirted his freshman year like he was going to he would have won us the Natinal Championship in 98 instead of Tee. Also he has done a tremendous job in the community , has done so much to help the program and the Knoxville area!! We will always be greatful for what you have done Peyton dispite what "billvol" and some of the other hater believe!! Go vols past and present.

cloudodust writes:

List looks like a Sunday morning buffet table of rock 'em sock 'em. I'd like to see who places on 2nd team.

Waldorf writes:

in response to uf2006bcs1:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

Nah, David Cutcliffe. Anything Fulmer ever accomplished can pretty much be a direct correlation to him anyway.

About the only possible gripe is the omission of Charlie Garner in the backfield.

tdtnsee writes:

Inki Johnson should be an honorble mention. He gave his All for Tennessee and then some he gave up his Football career for the vols, he should be on every list. The all heart list 1st team. The all vol list 1st team, and the "I will give my all for Tennessee today " first team.
JIMO. Go Vols!!!!

MadtownVol writes:

If I recall correctly, John Ward said "Pandemoneum Reigns" at the end of the Florida game as the throngs of orange-clad fans rushed the field. His sign off in the national championship game was 'the National Champions are dressed in Big Orange' or something like that. Correct me if I am wrong.

GR82BAVOL writes:

in response to gohawks1:

Amen to the John Ward comments. I think John's words were, "Pandemonium reigns!", but I'm not 100% sure on that.

Amen also to the Kiffin prognostication.

LOL "IPorange",

Two words were all that were in his retirement speech too ("IT'S...TIME").

Man do I ever miss John Ward.

FIELDGOALTN writes:

You missed one - JIM BOB COOTER.

pms151 writes:

How many of the guys you picked were Majors' guys you idiot? And how do you leave the guy who came out of the rain to beat Florida? You are an idiot. Go back to the bayou where you belong.

Velo_Vol writes:

When will the Fulmer funeral end?

cloudodust writes:

in response to Velo_Vol:

When will the Fulmer funeral end?

Ever hear of Michael Jackson..?

huntined#565710 writes:

Thought maybe ole REGGIE WHITE would have been on the list

GerryOP writes:

in response to huntined#565710:

Thought maybe ole REGGIE WHITE would have been on the list

Agreed.

GR82BAVOL writes:

in response to pms151:

How many of the guys you picked were Majors' guys you idiot? And how do you leave the guy who came out of the rain to beat Florida? You are an idiot. Go back to the bayou where you belong.

That would be Mose Phillips...A good fullback, but was basically a converted tailback...arguably one of the better FB's to play at UT...I can still see him doing his "It's about time I got into the end zone" impression by pretending to look at a watch on his wrist.

Go4Two writes:

in response to Indianavol:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

That was a great game I was living in Oxford , AL. We went to the game and partied all night after that win.

Go4Two writes:

in response to jcvet:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

Wow! I would take 152-52 over the next 17 years. Spoiled that's what winning does to fans. Ky just won 6 games 3 years in a row for the first time since 1956. Auburn has not won a NC since 1957, Georiga 1980, Bama 1992.

bluetick writes:

I won't argue with any of this list. I think it's a pretty good list. Fulmer was ahead of his time by recruiting the way he did, going cross country and etc.... Now everybody is doing it, but he was one of the first to travel FAR to get good recruits if he had to. I would like to see that whole team playing together. Like a 'field of dreams' or something.

invisiblekid writes:

Michael Munoz deserves at least honorable mention at the tackle spot.

invisiblekid writes:

in response to GerryOP:

Agreed.

White didn't play under Fulmer. Remember, this is apparently a University of Fulmer all time team list.

Waldorf writes:

in response to Go4Two:

Wow! I would take 152-52 over the next 17 years. Spoiled that's what winning does to fans. Ky just won 6 games 3 years in a row for the first time since 1956. Auburn has not won a NC since 1957, Georiga 1980, Bama 1992.

I would gladly trade 10 wins over the likes of MTSU, UAB, etc. for 2 more conference titles in that span.

ULTIMATEVOLUNTEER writes:

Jason Allen needs to slide to corner instead of Dwayne Goodrich. (I know he was mainly a safety but he played some corner too)

CrankE writes:

All-Fulmer team easy to pick. Translation; I was really bored and needed a really easy column to write.

Most Despised at KNS easy to pick. (Sorry, I get bored as a poster too.)

Go4Two writes:

in response to Waldorf:

I would gladly trade 10 wins over the likes of MTSU, UAB, etc. for 2 more conference titles in that span.

I think we owned Georiga and Bama during that period. Played for the SEC title 5 times won 2. Should have won 3 maybe 4 with a little luck. We also only lost one title game as the fav.

FIELDGOALTN writes:

in response to Velo_Vol:

When will the Fulmer funeral end?

The Mule Day King will live forever.

tnfanincali writes:

in response to DarthVol:

The list has a decidedly NFL slant to it. But any list of all time Fulmer greats that doesn't include Billy Ratliff is a flawed list imo. And that's not based on "the Play". What he gave up physically to contribute to this team should be remembered and respected.

Ratliff was one of the hardest hitters I have ever seen on the DLine. He was quick and very strong for his size...

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