We go way back into history for this one. Before Doug Atkins, Johnny Majors, Reggie White, Peyton Manning, Al Wilson or Eric Berry, there was George Cafego. He was one of the earliest stars for Robert Neyland and the catalyst for two of the greatest teams in Tennessee football history.
A two-time All-American, Cafego is known for his versatility. He was the leading rusher and passer for Neyland’s Vols during this time, leading the team to an undefeated record in 1938 and a national title while also helping them go undefeated, untied and unscored on in the 1939 regular season.
If you want to know Cafego’s value, all you have to know is that the one game he did not play the 1939 season was the Rose Bowl against the USC Trojans. And after 23 straight wins and 15 straight shutouts, the Vols lost 14-0.
Cafego’s amazing value is mostly documented for his offensive play. But he was a superstar on special teams, and that’s what we’re going to break down here. Tennessee football used Cafego as a punter and a kick returner. That’s a pretty amazing combination.
He returned 64 punts for 883 yards, an average of 13.8 yards a return. On top of that, he returned 12 kickoffs for 391 yards, which led to an amazing average of 32.6 yards per kickoff return. Simply put, Cafego could do it all.
The guy literally blocked, kicked, played offense and returned kicks. He is the most versatile Tennessee football player in history, and his returns alone keep him on this specific list. Imagine the other all-time Vols lists he’s on!
Because of all this, Cafego was able to be the first overall pick in the 1940 NFL Draft. He was one of the most excellent college players of all time, and he’s certainly a legend on Rocky Top. It’s why we have him so high on this list.