What follows are my picks for the five greatest backs at Tennessee from 1964-2004:
5. JAMES STEWART: "Little Man" had an odd career, rushing for 939 yards as a freshman, adding just 387 and 537 yards while stuck behind juco transfer Charlie Garner for two years, then gaining 1,028 yards as a senior in 1994. Actually a big man, the 6-1, 218-pounder ran effectively both inside and outside. He averaged 5.4 yards per carry and ranks second on UT's all-time list with 2,890 career yards.
4. TRAVIS HENRY: Stuck behind fellow freshman Jamal Lewis, "Cheese" seriously considered transferring after rushing just two times for four yards in 1997. Lewis tore an ACL early in '98, however, and Henry wound up running for 970 yards and helping UT claim the national title. Travis ran for 790 yards as Lewis' backup in 1999, then tacked on 1,314 yards in 2000. His four-year total of 3,078 yards still ranks as most ever by a Vol back. At 5-9 and 220 pounds, Henry was built like a block of cheese, hence his colorful nickname.
3. CHARLIE GARNER: This junior college transfer played just two years on The Hill but made the most of them. Blessed with game-breaking speed and elusiveness, Garner averaged 6.7 yards per carry – the best career mark by a UT back since Beattie Feathers averaged 7.2 from 1931-33. Though undersized, Garner gained 2,089 yards in his two Vol seasons, then went on to enjoy a distinguished NFL career.
2. JAMAL LEWIS: After rushing for 1,364 yards as a true freshman in 1997, there was nowhere to go but down. Sure enough, the bullish 6-1, 230-pounder went down with a torn ACL early in his sophomore season. He returned in '99 but ran tentatively. After averaging 5.9 yards per carry as a frosh and 6.8 per carry in his abbreviated sophomore season, Lewis averaged just 4.5 yards per attempt as a junior. Electing to bypass his senior season, he was the fifth player picked in the 2000 NFL Draft. Despite missing most of his sophomore season and skipping his senior year, Lewis ranks fourth on UT's career rushing list with 2,677 yards.
1.CHUCK WEBB: He was only 5-10 and 195 pounds, but Webb's thick legs enabled him to run with surprising power. He also boasted excellent speed, remarkable balance and amazing vision. As a redshirt freshman in 1989 he recorded the two greatest rushing performances in school history, gaining 294 yards vs. Ole Miss and 250 in the Cotton Bowl vs. Arkansas. Despite splitting time with Reggie Cobb and starting just six games, Webb finished that season with 1,236 yards. A fierce competitor, he tore an ACL vs. Pacific in Game 2 of 1990, but insisted on limping to the sidelines without assistance. It would be his last game as a Vol. He turned pro following his sophomore season but the knee never fully recovered. After one mediocre year in the NFL, the most promising running back in UT history retired.