Tennessee's football team spent 2005 trying to contain some great quarterbacks – Darrell Hackney of UAB, Chris Leak of Florida, JaMarcus Russell of LSU, D.J. Shockley of Georgia, Brodie Croyle of Alabama, Brady Quinn of Notre Dame and Jay Cutler of Vanderbilt.
Cutler was a first-round NFL Draft pick. Croyle and Hackney also were selected by pro teams. Shockley was SEC Offensive Player of the Year. Quinn and Leak are considered leading candidates for the 2006 Heisman Trophy but Russell may have more raw ability than either of them.
After facing a veritable Who's Who of NCAA quarterbacks in 2005, Tennessee will be facing a Who's Who of NCAA tailbacks in 2006. Here's a sneak peak:
- Marshawn Lynch, California: He rushed for 1,246 yards last fall despite missing two games with injuries.
- Kenneth Darby, Alabama: He ranked second among SEC backs last fall with 1,242 yards.
- Darren McFadden, Arkansas: As a freshman he ranked fourth in the league with 1,113 yards and led the SEC with a 6.3 yards-per-carry average. He also ranked second in touchdowns (11).
- Rafael Little, Kentucky: He was fifth in SEC rushing with 1,045 yards and led the league with 1982 all-purpose yards (rushing, receiving and return yards).
- Thomas Brown, Georgia: He ranked ninth among SEC backs with 736 yards.
In case you're interested, the folks at Collegefootballnews.com rank all five of the above among the NCAA's top 20 running backs heading into 2006. Lynch is No. 5, McFadden No. 11, Little No. 14, Darby No. 17 and Brown No. 19.
By the way, Auburn's Kenny Irons (who isn't on UT's fall schedule) is ranked No. 4 and the Vols' own Arian Foster is rated No. 16.