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

Photo by Vincent Laforet /Allsport
Photo by Vincent Laforet /Allsport /
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Photo by Eliot J. Schechter/Getty Images
Photo by Eliot J. Schechter/Getty Images /

Four years before Erik Ainge won the East his senior year, Casey Clausen helped Tennessee football capture a share of the East. Heading into the season, UT was returning to health after the injury bug resulted in a disastrous 8-5 campaign in 2002 despite starting the year ranked No. 5.

With no running game and no go-to receivers, Clausen had even less to work with. As a result, his completion percentage dropped to only 56.6. But that was because Phillip Fulmer was relying heavily on Clausen to be the difference maker without a lot of that talent, and he did just that. Clausen threw for 27 touchdowns and only had 9 interceptions as a senior.

He had a clutch four-touchdown performance in the five-overtime victory over the Alabama Crimson Tide. Other notable moments included the shootout win to hold off the Marshall Thundering Herd and the Hail Mary against the Florida Gators in a 24-10 victory. Clausen only had 81 passing yards in a 10-6 win over the Miami Hurricanes, but he made no mistakes.

As a result, the Vols finished the year 10-2 and captured a share of the East. Clausen finished his career second to Peyton Manning in every career statistical category as well, and this was his best season. He did it with almost no weapons, which is why he’s on this list. Unfortunately for him, Eli Manning was the star of the SEC in 2003, so he got no shine.