Tennessee football: 5 former Vols greats who didn’t live up to the NFL hype

Tee Martin of the Tennesse Volunteers. Credit: Vincent Laforet /Allsport
Tee Martin of the Tennesse Volunteers. Credit: Vincent Laforet /Allsport /
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Overrated Tennessee Football Players, NFL busts
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The Vols have had many great football players but these are the 5 most overrated Tennessee football players who turned out to be big NFL busts.

When you think about the long history of Tennessee football and not just their more recent plight to return to relevancy, it’s hard not to think about the NFL greats they’ve produced. Guys like Peyton Manning, Reggie White, Leonard Little, Jason Witten, Eric Berry and Arian Foster, among many more, have all gone on to star at the next level.

For as many studs that Tennessee football has produced for the professional ranks, however, the Volunteers have also seen some duds come out of Knoxville. Frankly, there have been plenty of highly drafted Vols that have come into the NFL and just not panned out as many had hoped they would — particularly the franchises that selected them.

With those types of players in mind, let’s take a look at five players who starred at Tennessee but failed to continue that level of success in the NFL.

Tee Martin was the man tasked with taking over Tennessee football after arguably the program’s greatest player ever, Peyton Manning, departed. And there are many differences between Manning and Martin, especially when you look at their professional careers. However, one of those differences is the fact that Martin won a National Championship with the Volunteers, something Manning can’t say.

After waiting behind Manning for two years, Martin took over the Vols in the 1998 season and led the team to a 13-0 record, which culminated in a BCS National Championship Game victory over Florida State. And though he had plenty of help, Martin was quite good that year as he threw for 2,164 yards, 19 touchdowns and six interceptions while rushing for seven scores as well.

Though they didn’t win the title in Martin’s senior season, the Vols were still immensely successful under his watch once again, going 9-2 overall and playing in the Fiesta Bowl, a loss to Nebraska. Martin threw for 2,317 yards, 12 touchdowns and nine interceptions while rushing for nine additional touchdowns in that season.

Despite his college success, however, Martin was not a highly touted NFL prospect, not being selected until Round 5 of the 2000 NFL Draft — one of the quarterbacks selected ahead of some guy named Tom Brady in that class. He only appeared in three career games, however, and attempted just 16 total passes in his career.