Before Larry Seivers, there was Steve DeLong. He was the first two-time All-American in Tennessee football history never to win a title. And like Seivers, he just happened to be caught in a bad time in the program’s history.
DeLong committed to the Vols as the program was beginning to fall apart under Bowden Wyatt. The exciting days of the early to mid-1950s were coming to an end, and it was stuck in its old ways by the early 1960s. In fact, he had the misfortune of playing for three different head coaches in three different years: Wyatt in 1962, Jim McDonald in 1963 and Doug Dickey in 1964.
During those three years, the Vols had records of 4-6, 5-5 and 4-5-1. So they never had a winning season or made a bowl game with DeLong at the helm. It went from rock bottom to another major bump in the road to just the beginning of the trend line moving up.
However, like Seivers in the 1970s, DeLong was one bright spot for the Vols during this time period. Not only did he make two All-American teams, but he also won the Outland Trophy in 1964.
Also, the future NFL player helped lay the foundation for what Tennessee football would become under Dickey. Sure, they had a losing record the year he won the Outland. But DeLong helped them score a couple of upsets, including a huge one over the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets. It set things in a forward direction for momentum, confidence and recruiting that restored the Vols program in the late 1960s.