In-state blockers

Based on historical precedent, recent Tennessee signees Kyler Kerbyson of Knoxville, Antonio Richardson of Nashville and Mack Crowder of Bristol made excellent decisions. In-state offensive linemen tend to enjoy considerable success on The Hill.

For instance, the Big Orange blocking front of 2009 featured four homegrown players among the five starters - Aaron Douglas (Maryville), Jacques McClendon (Chattanooga), plus Cory and Cody Sullins (Cottontown). The Sullins twins actually came to The Hill as walk-ons.

The Vols' success with home-grown offensive line talent is no recent development, however. The greatest blocking corps in program history was the 1985 group that helped the Vols win the SEC title, hammer Miami 35-7 in the Sugar Bowl and post a No. 4 finish nationally. That line also featured four native Tennesseans among the starting five - Daryle Smith (Powell), Harry Galbreath (Clarksville), John Bruhin (Powell) and Bruce Wilkerson (Philadelphia).

Wilkerson went on to play 12 years in the NFL, Galbreath 10, Smith six and Bruhin four. Spring City's David Douglas, who started in '84 but missed much of '85 due to injury, wound up playing five years in the NFL. All told, those five guys played a combined 37 NFL seasons.

Another of the Vols' all-time great lines was the 1993 group that helped Tennessee average a school-record 40.3 points per game. That five-man delegation also featured four homegrown products - Jason Layman (Sevierville), Kevin Mays (Kingston), Bubba Miller (Franklin) and Jeff Smith (Decatur). Miller and Smith went on to spend six years each in the NFL, Layman five. Mays would have been a pro, too, had he not blown out a knee following his senior season at Tennessee.

What follows is a list of in-state offensive linemen who started at least two years for Tennessee and/or went on to quality pro careers since the program went to two-platoon football in 1964:

- Gerald Woods (Milan) started in 1964 and '65

- Bob Johnson (Cleveland) started in 1965, '66 and '67. The second player picked in the 1968 NFL Draft, he spent 11 years in the NFL

- John Boynton (Pikeville) started in 1965, '66 and '67

- Charles Rosenfelder (Humboldt) started in 1966, '67 and '68

- Steve Robinson (Franklin) started in 1969 and '70

- Mike Bevans (Donelson) started in 1969 and '70

- Don Denbo (Pulaski) started in 1969 and '70

- Joe Balthrop (Clarksville) started in 1969, '70 and '71

- Bill Emendorfer (Cleveland) started in 1971 and '72

- Gaylon Hill (Brownsville) started in 1971 and '72

- Tom Johnson (Cleveland) started in 1971 and '72

- Larry Satterfield (Satterfield) started in 1973 and '74

- Steve Cone (Lawrenceburg) started in 1973 and '74

- Paul Johnson (Cleveland) started in 1974 and '75

- Jay Williams (Nashville) started in 1977, '78 and '80

- Tim Irwin (Knoxville) started in 1979 and '80, then played 14 years in the NFL

- John Matthews (Memphis) started in 1981 and '82

- Raleigh McKenzie (Knoxville) started just one year at UT, 1984, but went on to play 15 years in the NFL

- David Douglas (Spring City) started in 1984, missed most of '85 due to injury , then spent five years in the NFL

- Bruce Wilkerson (Philadelphia) started in 1984, '85 and '86, then spent 12 years in the NFL

- Daryle Smith (Powell) started in 1985 and '86, then spent six years in the NFL

- Harry Galbreath (Clarksville) started in 1985, '86 and '87, then spent 10 years in the NFL

- John Bruhin (Powell) started in 1985, '86 and '87, then spent four years in the NFL

- Eric Still (Germantown) started in 1987, '88 and '89

- Charles McRae (Clinton) started in 1989 and '90. The seventh player picked in the '91 NFL Draft, he played six years in the NFL

- John Fisher (Milan) started in 1989, '90 and '91

- Bubba Miller (Franklin) started in 1992, '93, '94 and '95, then spent six years in the NFL

- Jeff Smith (Decatur) started in 1992, '93, '94 and '95, then spent six years in the NFL

- Kevin Mays (Kingston) started in 1993 and '94

- Jason Layman (Sevierville) started in 1993, '94 and '95, then spent five years in the NFL

- Trey Teague (Jackson) started in 1996 and '97, then spent nine years in the NFL

- Spencer Riley (New Market) started in 1996, '97 and '98

- Chad Clifton (Martin) started in 1996, '97, '98 and '99. Now in his 10th NFL season, he was named to the 2011 Pro Bowl

- Scott Wells (Spring Hill) started in 2000, '01, '02 and '03. He just concluded his seventh season in the NFL

- Will Ofenheusle (Martin) started in 2001 and '02

- David Ligon (Germantown) started in 2005 and '06

- Ramon Foster (Henning) started in 2007 and '08. He just concluded his second NFL season

Tennessee started just one native son in its offensive front last fall, Nashville freshman James Stone. Historically speaking, however, it appears that Kerbyson, Richardson and Crowder have come to the right place.


Inside Tennessee Top Stories