This one remains a bit perplexing. Casey Clausen after the 2001 season looked on track to replicate Peyton Manning’s career with Tennessee football. He never got that SEC Championship that Manning got, but he came close in so many other ways.
Still, despite willing the Vols to a 10-2 regular season in 2003, a share of the SEC East, and huge wins over the Florida Gators and Miami Hurricanes on the road, nobody gave him a look. He wasn’t even taken in the NFL Draft.
Clausen gave it a shot with the Kansas City Chiefs in preseason but never got any in-game action. Eventually, he left the NFL, and now he is a high school football coach. But that doesn’t take away from his four-year career in Knoxville.
Playing a huge role in some of the greatest wins the Vols ever enjoyed, Clausen went 2-0 in Tuscaloosa and 2-0 in Gainesville. And we already mentioned him winning a game in Miami. The guy was as clutch as you could get and never lost on the road.
In 2003, he had a limited running game and no go-to targets. So he was literally the only part of the offense able to do anything. Clausen’s one weakness that NFL scouts likely saw was he needed lots of protection from his offensive line. He wasn’t great at getting rid of the ball quickly, and that was the key difference between him and Manning.
But in everything else, he was great. The guy is second to Manning in almost every statistical passing category. So he certainly belongs on this list.