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) /
13 of 17
Tennessee Volunteers
Tennessee Volunteers. Photo by Doug Pensinger/ALLSPORT /

Joining Bert Rechichar, Jack Stroud is another guy who flew under the radar during the dynasty in Robert Neyland’s third stint with Tennessee football from 1950 to 1952. Again, Doug Atkins, Hank Lauricella, Ted Daffer, Bud Sherrod, Bill “Pug” Pearman and John Michels were all bigger names. But Stroud was the unglamorous offensive lineman.

His blocking helped the Vols win back-to-back national titles and was a big reason that Lauricella became a household name. But he did not earn any national recognition for it. He wasn’t taken until the fifth round the NFL Draft.

But upon joining the New York Giants in 1953, Stroud became an elite NFL star. Playing guard and tackle, Stroud enjoyed 12 years with the Giants, earning three Pro Bowl appearances in 1955, 1957 and 1960. He started in 109 of 132 games played and was a staple for the Giants during that run.

If you want proof of how much Stroud over-performed in the NFL, had as many Pro Bowl appearances Daffer, Lauricella, Pearmanand Sherrod had years in the NFL combined, and all four of those were All-Americans on one of those teams. If you add Michels, then yes, you get one more year in the NFL combined with all them than Stroud had Pro Bowls.

Atkins and Rechichar are different stories. But Stroud was another one of those overachievers. It was so significant that it more than earned him a spot on this list. There’s no denying that his NFL career was better than his college career.