Top tailbacks tested UT in 2006

There is no doubt that the season-ending bicep injury star defensive tackle Justin Harrell suffered in Game 2 last fall contributed significantly as Tennessee allowed an uncharacteristic 146.7 rushing yards per game.

There was another contributing factor, however. The Vols faced some excellent running backs last season, beginning with Cal's Marshawn Lynch in Game 1. He's projected as a sure-fire first-round pick in the upcoming NFL Draft.

Lynch is among six heralded backs the Vols faced last fall who project to be drafted this weekend. Here's a look at how each of them fared against the Big Orange:

GAME 1: Marshawn Lynch, Cal: Rated the draft's No. 2 back behind Oklahoma's Adrian Peterson, the 5-11, 217-pound Lynch carried 12 times for 74 yards against the Vols with a long run of 22 yards. He also caught a team-high five passes for 22 yards.

GAME 3: DeShawn Wynn, Florida: Ranked a Round 4-5 pick by most draft analysts, the 5-11, 234-pound Wynn carried 22 times for 104 yards against UT with a long run of 26 yards. He also caught two passes for 13 yards.

GAME 4: Ahmad Bradshaw, Marshall: Although he's relatively unheralded, Bradshaw is considered a solid Day 2 draft pick with good "upside." The 5-11, 200-pounder carried 24 times for 72 yards vs. Tennessee with a best gain of 11 yards. He did not catch a pass. (Then again, Marshall completed just eight passes all day.)

GAME 7: Kenneth Darby, Alabama: Once considered a Day 1 draft pick, Darby is now viewed as a Round 4-5 pick following a disappointing senior year. The 5-10, 211-pounder carried 14 times for just 26 yards against the Vols with a long of 6 yards. He did not catch a pass.

GAME 8: Syvelle Newton, South Carolina: He played quarterback for the Gamecocks but projects as either a tailback or wideout in the NFL. The 6-2, 194-pounder ran 14 times on scrambles and quarterback draws vs. Tennessee, gaining 85 net yards and scoring a touchdown. His longest run was 12 yards. Obviously, he did not catch a pass since he was the guy throwing them.

GAME 13: Tony Hunt, Penn State: Widely regarded as a Round 3-4 draft pick, the 6-1, 233-pounder shredded Tennessee for 158 yards on 31 carries with a long of 24 yards. He didn't score a touchdown but his consistency enabled the Nittany Lions to control the ball in a 20-10 Outback Bowl win.

(NOTE: Arkansas's Darren McFadden and Kentucky's Rafael Little were not included in this recap because they still have collegiate eligibility remaining.)


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