Top OLBs, picks 6-10

They say you don't have to see great linebacker play; you can HEAR it. Well, the guys who fill spots 6 through 10 on my list of the 15 greatest Tennessee linebackers from 1964-2004 certainly made themselves heard during their days on The Hill.

The five players listed below came in all shapes and sizes but they had one thing in common: They chased the football with zeal and hit with authority once they got the ball-carrier in their sights.

That said, here are picks 6 through 10:

10. GREG JONES: After starting outside in '76, this Bristol native moved inside in '77 and served as team captain that fall. Wherever he played, he was productive. Jones ranks second on UT's career list for primary tackles (269) and fourth in total tackles (377), even though he never led the Vols in stops during any of his four seasons (1974-77).

9. CRAIG PUKI: A starter in '76, '78 and '79, Puki seemed equally comfortable outside or inside. Voted a captain and an All-SEC player in '79, he ranks fifth on the career tackle chart (358) and sixth on the primary tackle chart (239). He twice led the Vols in tackles, posting 131 stops in '78 and 122 in '79. Tabbed in Round 3 of the 1980 NFL Draft, he spent three years with the San Francisco 49ers and St. Louis Cardinals.

8. KEVIN BURNETT: A starter 2003 and 2004, he was a captain each season. Burnett missed all but one game of 2002 with a torn ACL and had just 154 tackles to show for his first four years on campus. He was healthy as a fifth-year senior, however, and responded with 120 stops, earning All-SEC and Coaches All-America recognition. Picked in Round 2 of the 2005 NFL Draft, he is soon to begin his second season with the Dallas Cowboys.

7. RAYNOCH THOMPSON: A three-year starter (1997-99), he led the Vols with 89 stops in 1998 and 87 in '99. Tough as a $2 steak, he played through numerous injuries, often hiding them from UT coaches. He was all-conference his last two years and earned All-America honors as a senior from The Coaches Association and the Associated Press. A second-round pick in the 2000 NFL Draft, he recently completed his sixth season of pro ball.

6. EARNEST FIELDS: Proving that good things come in small packages, this 5-foot-9 Milan product started for four years (1988-91) and proved amazingly productive. He still ranks third on Tennessee's all-time charts for tackles (407), primary tackles (238) and assists (149). Fields led the Vols with 140 stops as a junior and 116 as a senior captain.


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