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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Terry McDaniel, Seattle Seahawks
Terry McDaniel, Seattle Seahawks. Photo by Stephen Dunn/Allsport /

Terry McDaniel switched from wide receiver to cornerback for Tennessee football after the 1984 NCAA season. It became the best move he ever made. A key player on the 1985 SEC title team, McDaniel was a staple of the Vols secondary for three years. However, he got no national recognition, as he only had one, three and two interceptions in each of his final three years.

The Los Angeles Raiders at the time still saw promise in him and took him very high in the NFL Draft, with the No. 9 overall pick in 1988. McDaniel emerged into a playmaking star that he didn’t ever show in his college days.

After playing only two games in 1988, he became a regular starter in 1989. In his first three seasons starting, McDaniel had a total of six interceptions, three sacks, two forced fumbles and three fumble recoveries, including one he returned for a touchdown.

Simply put, McDaniel was already emerging as a star. But he then exploded onto the scene in 1992 and became an NFL superstar from 1992 to 1996. During those five years, McDaniel averaged over five interceptions a year, including seven in 1994 and six in 1995. He returned five of those interceptions for touchdowns.

At the same time, he had three more forced fumbles and four fumble recoveries, including another returned for a touchdown. In addition to making the Pro Bowl all five of those years, McDaniel was an All-Pro player for four of them.

When his career finished after his 11th NFL season in 1998, McDaniel had 35 interceptions, five forced fumbles, seven fumble recoveries, eight total touchdowns and three sacks. He was elite in every way. Until the next guy up on our list, McDaniel was probably the best former Vol ever to not be a surefire Pro Football Hall of Fame player.