It’s not the same as it was back in the mid-2000s, when Tennessee football had NFL superstars all over the field. In reality, it hasn’t been the same since Peyton Manning retired at the end of the 2015 season. However, the Vols still have plenty of guys all over pro rosters, and even as the program has suffered, productivity at the next level hasn’t.
With the 2021 NFL season set to be underway, UT has 18 players on active NFL rosters and nine more on team rosters. As we get set to do our annual rankings of the top pro Vols, we’re going to take into account proven production and projections for players this year.
What really stands out about the players who made our list is how many of them went undrafted and then just overachieved by signing onto rosters. Rocky Top is becoming a hub for such talent. Which players fit that bill? Find out who they are and more in our ranking of Tennessee football’s top 10 former players in the pros.
NFL experience: 12th year
Our list begins with the longest-tenured Vol in the pros today. Yes, a long-snapper has been the most consistent player from Rocky Top in the NFL the past decade-plus. Morgan Cox isn’t just a long snapper who has been a model of consistency. He is a four-time Pro Bowler who is coming off a first team All-Pro campaign in 2020.
All of his exploits the past 11 years came with the Baltimore Ravens, where he helped Justin Tucker become arguably the greatest kicker of all time. Now, he will spend his first year with a different team, much closer to where he is originally from in Collierville, Tenn., which is just outside of Memphis in Shelby County.
Yes, Cox is now with the Tennessee Titans. At 6’4″ 233 pounds, he signed a one-year deal with them. In terms of production at a position, Cox could be No. 1 on this list. However, long snappers are obviously limited at what they can do, so he’s down here. Still, he’s the first undrafted player from Tennessee football to make this list.