Tennessee football: 15 Vols who were better in the NFL

Jason Witten, Dallas Cowboys. (Photo by Tom Pennington/Getty Images)
Jason Witten, Dallas Cowboys. (Photo by Tom Pennington/Getty Images) /
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Stanley Morgan, New England Patriots
Stanley Morgan, New England Patriots. (Photo by Mike Powell/Getty Images) /

Johnny Majors was credited for turning Tennessee football into Wide Receiver U. Larry Seivers is the precursor to that as a two-time All-American under Bill Battle. But Seivers’ teammate Stanley Morgan was the NFL star.

After leading the Vols in receiving as the first freshman player ever to make a significant impact on the program with 22 receptions for 541 yards and four touchdowns, Morgan took a back seat to Seivers beginning in 1974. Seivers had 347 yards and two touchdowns, 840 yards and four touchdowns and 737 yards and two touchdowns the ensuing three years.

Morgan, meanwhile, had 234 yards and no touchdowns, 13 yards and no touchdowns and 317 yards and no touchdowns. To be fair, he became more of a utility player, an early Alvin Kamara if you must, with 723 rushing yards and 11 touchdowns, 809 yards and eight touchdowns and 388 yards and nine touchdowns those three years. And he became a regular return man.

But even with not enough touches, which makes Bill Battle look like Butch Jones, Morgan was still a first-round pick, while Seivers, the All-American, was a fourth-round pick. Seivers was done in the pros after a year. Morgan, meanwhile, played 13 years with the New England Patriots, going to one Super Bowl, and one with the Indianapolis Colts.

He made four Pro Bowls, had three 1,000-yard receiving seasons, one of which was almost 1,500 yards plus another 991-yard season and two seasons with 10 touchdowns or more, including a league-leading 12 touchdowns in 1979. Morgan was an NFL star, one of the most prolific former Vols ever in the NFL. With no national recognition in college, that’s pretty impressive.