Tennessee football: 10 greatest seasons by Vols who didn’t earn All-American honors

Photo by Vincent Laforet /Allsport
Photo by Vincent Laforet /Allsport /
2 of 12
Photo by Scott Halleran/ALLSPORT
Photo by Scott Halleran/ALLSPORT /

Before Travis Stephens in 2001, there was Jay Graham in 1995. Stephens took over after sitting behind bigger stars in Jamal Lewis and all-time leading rusher Travis Henry. Graham was set to take over for Mose Phillips, Aaron Hayden and then-all-time leading rusher James “Little Man” Stewart along with Charlie Garner, whom he sat behind in 1993.

Graham broke out in the second game of the season, helping Manning lead the Vols down the field to set up a game winning field goal for the Vols to beat the Georgia Bulldogs 30-27. As Manning’s stardom grew, Graham was becoming UT’s biggest offensive weapon.

He clinched the Vols’ win over the Alabama Crimson Tide with a 75-yard touchdown run. Then he had 211 yards in a win over the Vanderbilt Commodores. And in the 20-14 Citrus Bowl win over the Ohio State Buckeyes, he was named the game’s MVP with 154 rushing yards, including a 69-yard touchdown run.

At the end of the regular season, Graham had 10 games with 100 yards or more and set the Tennessee football single season rushing record with 1,438 yards and 12 touchdowns on 272 carries en route to the school’s 11-1 record. Stephens broke that record six years later. But Graham did not get national recognition, as he was stuck in Manning’s shadow.