Top FBs, picks 6-10

I figured choosing the top 10 Tennessee fullbacks of the past 40 years would be difficult. Heck, just settling on a FORMULA for choosing the top 10 Tennessee fullbacks of the past 40 years was taxing.

Since Vol fullbacks are primarily blockers, should I simply list the top 10 blockers? Should I consider how many yards the featured back gained in assessing how well his lead blocker performed? How much credit should I give to guys who blocked well AND gained a few yards actually carrying the ball? How about guys who blocked well and gained a few yards CATCHING the ball? How do you judge guys like William Howard, James Berry and Greg Amsler, who played some tailback, as well as fullback?

Here's what I decided: A fullback who gets some carries had to earn them by being a productive ball-carrier. Likewise, a fullback who gets some receptions had to earn them by proving he can catch the ball out of the backfield. So, the guys who were glorified battering rams won't place as highly in my ratings as they might in some other ratings.

That said, here are picks 6 through 10:

10. HUBERT SIMPSON: Hubert weighed around 210 pounds and was actually more of a tailback than a fullback. He led Tennessee in rushing with 792 yards in 1979. In a game against Kentucky that fall he got more yards (181) and more carries (35) than some Vol fullbacks get in their careers. That same year he scored four touchdowns in a win over Notre Dame. He wasn't a traditional fullback but that's how UT lists him, so that's how I'm listing him.

9. CHESTER FORD: A starter in 1995 and '96, this 6-foot, 228-pounder carried four times for 11 yards as a sophomore, 14 times for 50 yards as a junior and 20 times for 50 yards as a senior. His greatest contribution was blocking for Jay Graham, who set a school record with 1,438 yards in ‘96.

8. TROY FLEMING: A tailback wannabe, Fleming started at fullback in 2002 and 2003 but never really embraced the job. He gained 342 career yards (on 84 attempts) as a rusher and 492 more (on 73 catches) as a receiver. The 6-2, 230-pounder caught 36 passes as a senior in 2003, ranking second on the team. If he'd shown the same passion for blocking that he did for rushing and receiving, he'd be in my top five.

7. MARIO BRUNSON: A three-year starter (1991-93), Brunson carried 24 times for 77 yards as a sophomore and 32 times for 105 yards as a junior. Playing under Phil Fulmer as a senior, he carried just six times for 18 yards. A converted linebacker, the 6-1, 246-pound Brunson proved to be a tough and aggressive blocker.

6. WILL BARTHOLOMEW: Starting in 2000 and 2001, the Nashville native helped Travis Stephens set UT's single-season rushing record with 1,464 yards in '01. Bartholomew rarely got to carry the ball (20 career rushes for 55 yards) but he caught 25 career passes for 196 yards. The 6-foot, 240-pounder's best year was his last one; he carried seven times for 17 yards and caught 10 passes for 85 yards in 2001.


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