Top MLBs, picks 6-10

Probably no player sets the tone for a defense quite like the middle linebacker. His toughness and tenacity can inspire his team and demoralize the opposing team. If he has a good year, the defense usually has a good year.

Not surprisingly, some of Tennessee's finest middle linebackers played for some of Tennessee's finest defenses. That's what I discovered while researching my picks for the top middle ‘backers of the 1964-2004 time frame.

Here are picks 6 through 10:

10. TYRONE HINES: A three-year starter (1994-96), this Brownsville native led the Vols with 110 tackles as a senior. His career highlight was scoring on a 90-yard return of a blocked field goal vs. South Carolina in 1995. He had 11 tackles for loss (not counting sacks) in ‘96, which ranks fifth on UT's all-time list. Hines never earned All-SEC recognition but he was one tough hombre.

9. ALVIN TOLES: A transplanted fullback, Toles started for just one year at linebacker (1983) but led the Vols with 135 stops (72 solo) that fall. The New Orleans Saints were impressed enough to make him their first-round draft pick for ‘84. He spent five years with the NFL team.

8. KELLY ZIEGLER: A three-year starter (1985-87), Ziegler led all Vol tacklers in '85 (101) and '86 (99). He recorded 353 career stops (seventh on UT's all-time list), including 254 primary tackles (fourth). His best day was a 24-tackle outing vs. Boston College in '87.

7. CARL ZANDER: Starting in 1983 and '84, he led Tennessee with 102 solos and 167 total hits as a senior. He ranks 10th on the all-time tackles list with 332 and fourth on the assists list with 147. A second-round pick of the Cincinnati Bengals in 1985, he ultimately spent seven years with the team.

6. JAMIE ROTELLA: A part-time starter in 1970, he was a full-time starter in '71 and '72. He led Tennessee with 100 solos and 190 total hits in '72, earning All-America recognition from Football News, United Press International and the coaches association. The son of former Vol Al Rotella, Jamie ranks second on UT's career list with 413 total hits. He went on to play two years in the Canadian Football League.

Inside Tennessee Top Stories