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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Tennessee football overrated players, NFL busts
Tennessee football (Mandatory Credit: Scott Halleran/ALLSPORT) /

It’s hard to mention NFL busts out of Tennessee football without thinking of Heath Shuler. For as good as he was in Knoxville and how highly touted of a prospect as he was entering the professional ranks, he just never panned out.

After serving as a little-used backup in the 1991 season, Shuler took over the starting quarterback job in the 1992 campaign. He completed 58 percent of his passes for 1,712 yards, 10 touchdowns and four interceptions while leading the Volunteers to a 9-3 record. The following year, Shuler bettered his production as he threw 61 more passes and completed 6.6 percent more of his throws for 2,354 yards, 25 touchdowns and eight interceptions, finishing second to Charlie Ward in the Heisman Trophy voting and leading the Vols to a 9-2-1 season.

Fresh off of his school record-setting career at Tennessee, Shuler was pegged by the Washington Redskins as their quarterback of the future as they took him with the No. 3 overall pick in the 1994 NFL Draft. However, his poor performance ultimately saw him benched for a seventh-round pick by his third season. After that, injuries and more dismal play ended his career after just 29 games played.

Shuler went on to become a United States Representative for the 11th congressional district of North Carolina. However, having a more successful political career than an NFL career doesn’t keep the former quarterback off of this list.

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