2001 Final Rankings
AP-4, BCS-4, Coaches-6
year old sophmore Kelley Washington dominated opponents
in his first year.
good have the Tennessee recruiting classes
been since coach Phil Fulmer took over the
program? This year the college football
world should find out, mainly because the
number of returning starters drops for 2002,
in particular, on offense. But some of the
mainstays are players that are easily recognized.
This team from Knoxville will generally
be found in everybody's Top 7 from high
to low, which puts the Vols in a nice position
of getting back to the Fiesta Bowl title
game to defend their 1998 title won from
Tempe. You're really looking at only nine
starters back with every single starter
but Clausen at the offensive skill positions
gone, as well as the entire defensive line.
The main keys for success will be how well
the offensive skill positions live up to
their billing with out having received much
playing experience, and the rebuilding question
needs answered with the defensive line as
the names departing were about as top notch
as can be (see NFL draft). The schedule
stands in the way; especially with Miami
rolling to town this coming fall as that
game is an obvious candidate for Game of
the Year. Hard to envision an undefeated
team as November concludes, so they will
need some help just like 2001. Not to put
any added pressure on Phil Fulmer, but the
SEC East is his to lose.
Projected 2002 record: 12-2
Casey Clausen, 227-354-9, 2969 Yards, 22 TD's
Rushing: Cedric Houston, 18 att., 106
yds., 1 TD's
Receiving: Kelley Washington, 64 rec.,
1010 yds., 5 TD's
Scoring: Alex Walls, 15 FG, 39 PAT,
Punting: Dustin Colquitt, 51 punts,
Kicking: Alex Walls, 15-20 FG, 39-39
PAT, 84 pts.
Tackles: Eddie Moore, 81 tot., 58 solo
Sacks: Constantin Ritzman, 4 sacks;
Demetrin Veal, 4 sacks
Interceptions: Rashad Baker, 4 for
Kickoff returns: CLeonard Scott, 25
ret., 20.9 avg.
Punt returns: Rashad Baker, 26 ret.,
237 yards, 9.1 avg.
Will Bartholomew-FB, Travis Stephens-TB, Eric
Parker-WR, Bobby Graham-WR, John Finlayson-TE,
Reggie Coleman-OT, Fred Weary-OG, Donte Stallworth-WR
Jackson-DE, John Henderson-DT, Will Overstreet-DE,
Dominique Stevenson-MLB, Andre Lott-CB, Teddy
Gaines-CB, Albert Haynesworth-DT (NFL)
position as one the most successful coaches in
college football (95-20 for an .826 percentage
in 10 years) owes much to his ability as a wise
judge of talent. When Casey Clausen struggled
at times early in his career, Fulmer maintained
faith in the young quarterback.
as Clausen matured last season, Fulmer advised
fans the best was still to come - leaving open
the possibility the next two years could produce
results beyond conventional expectations. On the
brink of his junior campaign, Clausen is regarded
as an all-star candidate with unlimited potential.
statistics in 2001 were impressive: 227 completions
in 354 attempts for 64.1 percent, 22 touchdown
tosses, nine interceptions. He found the range
in the bowl game with Michigan, riddling the Wolverines
for 393 yards and three touchdowns on 26-for-34
passing and no interceptions.
from Clausen's passing prowess, Fulmer noted an
admirable streak of toughness that he exhibited
in a gutsy touchdown run against Notre Dame. "Casey
doesn't back away from anything," Fulmer
Leak, who transferred to Tennessee from Wake Forest,
is another scholarship quarterback on the roster.
He started seven games as a freshman for the Demon
Deacons and three games his sophomore season of
2000 before injuring his knee.
Cinderella story of 2001 football, the transformation
of Travis Stephens from a face in the crowd to
All-America tailback, was an indispensable ingredient
in the Vols' rise to fourth in the final polls.
But there is no shortage of gifted candidates
seeking to replace the man who ended his career
as Tennessee's top single season runner of all
time with 1,464 yards.
year's recruiting class yielded four marquee running
back prospects, none of whom logged more than
sporadic amounts of playing time. But when Jabari
Davis, Cedric Houston and Derrick Tinsley took
to the field, the ability that earned them high
school All-America status was obvious. The fourth
prize recruit, Keldrick Williams, was redshirted.
Troy Fleming, the most experienced returning member
of the running back corps, saw most of his service
backing up Will Bartholomew at fullback and figures
to contribute mainly as Will's replacement. Last
season, Davis alternated between fullback and
tailback, while Houston and Tinsley took their
snaps at tailback.
field observers spotted Kelley Washington as a
budding talent his first day of spring workouts
last year and correctly saw future stardom for
the sturdy youngster. The one-time baseball hopeful,
who decided to enter college after a short professional
career on the diamond, became a Biletnikoff Award
semifinalist as a freshman wide receiver. His
most notable achievement came in the regular season
LSU game when he compiled a school record 256
yards on 11 receptions.
Washington, with 1,010 yards on 64 catches, will
be a favorite target for Clausen, who also can
look to returning lettermen Montrell Jones, Leonard
Scott and Tony Brown. C.J. Fayton moved from quarterback
to receiver before spring practice.
favorite cry of football fans nationwide, "Throw
the ball to the tight end," was heeded big-time
at Tennessee last year when 6-5, 265-pound Jason
Witten was on the receiving end of 28 pass completions.
Witten, a junior, has the athletic ability to
avoid tacklers. The ones he can't avoid, he runs
over. Witten's emergence as a quality possession-style
receiver gave Tennessee a trio of sure-handed
receivers who spelled trouble for opposing defenses.
triumvirate of Washington, Stallworth and Witten
was a lot to handle. With Stallworth turned pro,
Washington and Witten need a third threat to emerge
and give opponents something more to worry about.
offensive line should be formidable despite the
loss of two regulars, guard Fred Weary and tackle
Reggie Coleman. Optimism concerning the front
is based partly on the return of two potentially
premier players who are trying to bounce back
Michael Munoz, who attained freshman All-America
rank two years ago, missed the entire 2001 season
after undergoing knee surgery. He appeared destined
to become one of Tennessee's best linemen ever
when the injury bugaboo struck. The other returnee
from the ranks of the wounded will be Jason Respert,
who missed the last 10 games with an ankle injury.
two topflight sophomores hope to reclaim starting
jobs -- Munoz at tackle, Respert at guard. If
they're successful, they will join five other
linemen who have starting jobs in their backgrounds.
Two of them, senior tackle Will Ofenheusle and
junior center Scott Wells, started every game
last season. Guard Anthony Herrera had six starts,
guard Chavis Smith four and tackle Sean Young
2002 DEPTH CHART
Returning Starters in Bold
if you will, a defensive front made up of an Outland
Trophy winner, another tackle of all-star potential,
an end who, though injured, made big play after
big play and another end who was becoming the
dominant force anticipated when he signed out
of high school.
then, "Poof!" just like that, they're
all gone. A line canonized by much of the media
as the best in the land suddenly vanished, three
of the quartet out because their eligibility had
expired. A fourth decided to give up his final
year of college football to join the NFL.
representative group of returnees will be on hand
for 2002, but it would be asking a lot to expect
them to equal the contributions made to the Vols'
defensive stature by John Henderson, Albert Haynesworth,
Will Overstreet and Bernard Jackson. The combination
of strength, speed and experience they encompassed
will be hard to match.
Hand and Constantin Ritzmann have the advantage
of experience at end, both of them having moved
into the starting lineup at some point last season.
Ritzmann in particular exhibited a penchant for
making big plays. Of his 33 tackles, eight were
executed short of the line of scrimmage, and four
were sacks. Hand was a regular early in the season
before giving way to Jackson, who held the starting
role the rest of the year. Hand accounted for
21 tackles, three of them for losses. Demetrin
Veal and Karlton Neal are returning lettermen.
has impressive credentials, not the least of which
are found on the tackle chart, revealing his 16
stops included seven for minus yardage. That's
an incredible tackles-to-lost-yardage ratio.
and Haynesworth last year staked out their territory
at tackle and had few challengers when they were
in the lineup together. Three lettermen will fight
it out with other hopefuls for playing time, including
one veteran who was a first-teamer two years ago
but missed 2001 because of an injury. Senior Edward
Kendrick plans to press his experience advantage
as a former regular in hopes of nailing down a
Rashad Moore (28 tackles last year) and Aubrayo
Franklin (14 tackles) are other tackle candidates,
with Moore's history as a three-time letterman
perhaps giving him an edge moving into the 2002
Moore will try to lead a charge that could turn
the linebacker positions into a dominant portion
of the defense, reminiscent of the leadership
provided by Al Wilson four years ago. Moore forged
headlong into the picture last season when he
picked up steam in the Vols' stretch run.
statistics put him at the head of the defense
in number of tackles and also showcased his wide
range of talents. Credited with 81 tackles, seven
more than runner-up Dominique Stevenson, Moore
registered seven tackles for loss, two sacks,
an interception, three quarterback hurries, two
forced fumbles and a fumble recovery. Fifty-four
of his tackles came in the last seven games.
a year at left linebacker, Moore heads up a seasoned
crop of backers that includes Keyon Whiteside
and Kevin Burnett, who shared duties on the right
side. Junior Robert Peace returns after serving
as backup to Stevenson at the middle linebacker
post. Other hopefuls include junior Tony Campbell
and freshman Kevin Simon.
secondary is populated with Vols who showed a
flair for making big plays. Three of the positions
return starters, the exception being the cornerback
slot on the left side where seniors Andre Lott
and Teddy Gaines were a steadying force for an
ambitious but young backfield.
his second year at UT, Jabari Greer fulfilled
the promise of a productive freshman campaign
by serving capably at right cornerback, opposite
Lott and Gaines. Jabari's quickness enabled him
to knock down 12 passes, contributing to a total
of 14.5 big plays.
Julian Battle, new on campus last year with a
background as a junior college standout, wasted
no time establishing his presence at strong safety.
A fierce hitter, Battle combined tackling skills
with a nose for the ball to finish the season
with 19 big plays. He forced a pair of fumbles
and recovered two, taking one of them 81 yards
for a touchdown at Notre Dame.
Baker, in line for a third year at starting free
safety, was at his best in headline games, tallying
13 tackles against Notre Dame and leading the
charge in the key late season victory at Florida
with nine stops. Third on the squad in number
of tackles, he was tops in interceptions with
wide-open fight looms for the left cornerback
job, but there is enough experience and talent
in the secondary to solve any problems in that
vital area of the defense. Willie Miles returns
from a redshirt season and also will compete for
playing time. Senior Steven Marsh and junior Mark
Jones will be keys as possible starters or top
2002 DEPTH CHART
Returning Starters in Bold
year starter Casey Clausen will be expected to lead
the Vols to great feats.