Nearly 30 years after Stanley Morgan set the trend at wide receiver, Kelley Washington had a rare freshman season as a go-to receiver for Tennessee football. Washington had played Minor League Baseball for four years before 2001, so he was a 22-year-old walk-on true freshman.
Early on, Donté Stallworth was the go-to receiver with Casey Clausen entering his sophomore year. And Travis Stephens was the main weapon as the feature running back. But Stallworth got hurt in the opener against Syracuse and would miss a month and a half.
So after a 2-0 start that included a hideous 13-3 win over the Arkansas Razorbacks, Phillip Fulmer used what became two bye weeks after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks to get Washington acclimated to the offense. Then he broke out against the LSU Tigers, setting a school record with 256 receiving yards on 11 catches in one game en route to a 26-18 win.
Washington became a major go-to threat on the year, and when Stallworth returned and Jason Witten emerged, Clausen had a series of elite weapons. However, Washington became the star with 64 receptions for 1,010 yards and five touchdowns. He was a big reason for the Vols going 11-2 and finishing in the top 5 this year, and they should’ve played for a national title.