Top WRs, picks 1-5

I've never run a marathon but I imagine you feel tremendous elation as you see the finish line and know the end is in sight. That's how I feel approaching the finish line in the marathon task of selecting Tennessee's top 15 wide receivers for the years 1964-2004.

Hopefully, my efforts will provide some entertainment, rekindle some memories and spark some lively debate.

That said, here are picks 1 through 5:

5. ALVIN HARPER: Harper was part of the most talented receiving corps in UT history – the 1989 group that also included Thomas Woods, Carl Pickens, Anthony Morgan, Terence Cleveland and Vince Moore. Because of the talent around him, Harper's numbers were less impressive than his skills. Even so, he recorded 102 career receptions to rank 12th on UT's all-time list. A high jumper on the Vol track team, his 6-3 height and athleticism made him an inviting target. Taken with the 12th pick in the 1991 NFL Draft, he spent seven seasons in the pros.

4. PEERLESS PRICE: This slender speedster's big-play ability spurred the 1998 Vols to the national title. He caught 61 balls for 920 yards and 10 touchdowns that fall, finishing with a 199-yard receiving effort (on just four catches) in UT's Fiesta Bowl defeat of Florida State. Price's 79-yard TD grab proved decisive en route to MVP recognition. He ranks third on UT's career yardage list (2,298) and fourth on the career receptions list (147). He had a few good years in the NFL before stalling.

3. TIM McGEE: He was on his way to a banner season in 1985 when star quarterback Tony Robinson blew out a knee at midseason. Tennessee became a more run-oriented team afterward. Still, McGee led the Vols with 54 catches for 809 yards in '84 and 50 catches for 947 yards in '85. Particularly adept at adjusting to poorly thrown balls, he ranks sixth on the Vols' all-time receptions list (123) and fifth on the yardage list (2,042). A first-round pick of the Cincinnati Bengals, he enjoyed 11 quality seasons in the NFL.

2. STANLEY MORGAN: OK, this is a projection. The speedy Morgan led the Vols with 22 catches as a freshman in 1973, setting a program record of 23.2 yards per catch that stands to this day. Because the Vols needed his big-play abilities at tailback, however, he spent the next three years carrying the ball instead of catching it. The New England Patriots recognized his receiving abilities, however, and selected him in the first round of the 1977 draft. Morgan spent 14 exceptional seasons in the NFL and was considered by many the elite receiver of his era.

1. CARL PICKENS: Even surrounded by guys like Thomas Woods, Alvin Harper and Anthony Morgan, Pickens stood out from the crowd. He led UT receivers in 1990 (53 catches for 973 yards) and '91 (49 for 877). He would've caught more balls in '89 except he also contributed as the Vols' free safety and kickoff return man. Though ranking ninth in career catches (109) and seventh in career yardage (1,875), he probably combined route-running skills, instincts, soft hands and elusiveness after the catch better than any Vol before or since. He went on to enjoy nine distinguished seasons in the NFL.


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