Best of Fulmer era - OTs

Since Phillip Fulmer played offensive line and distinguished himself coaching the position before becoming Tennessee's head man, you'd figure the Vols would field strong blocking fronts during his reign.

And you'd be right.

The game has changed dramatically since Phil played, however. Offenses now throw the ball more, so defenses have reacted by putting super-quick pass rushers at defensive end. That has forced coaches to recruit and develop offensive tackles with the strength, footwork and athleticism to fend off these pass-rush specialists.

Given how much Tennessee has thrown the ball with Heath Shuler, Peyton Manning, Tee Martin, Casey Clausen and Erik Ainge behind center during the Fulmer era, it isn't surprising that the Vols have developed some pretty solid pass blockers at the tackle position.

That said, here are my rankings of the offensive tackles who have started for Tennessee during the Fulmer era (1992-present).

1. Arron Sears (2004-06): Though better suited to guard, Sears started for three seasons at tackle. For a guy playing out of position, he did all right – earning All-SEC recognition in 2005 and 2006. He won the Jacobs Blocking Trophy and All-America recognition as a senior, then was selected in Round 2 of the '07 NFL Draft.

2. Chad Clifton (1996-99): This massive man from Martin assumed a starting job during his freshman season and kept it for 3½ seasons. He earned no all-conference honors but was a second-round NFL Draft pick who has anchored the Green Bay Packers' offensive line for nearly a decade.

3. Jason Layman (1993-95): When your job is protecting Peyton Manning's blind side, you get noticed when you mess up. Layman rarely got noticed during his three years as the starting left tackle. He was All-SEC in '95, then was selected in Round 2 of the NFL Draft.

4. Michael Munoz (2000, 2002-04): He had to overcome being Anthony Munoz' son and knee problems that caused him to miss the entire '01 season. He started every game for four years, however, earning All-America recognition as a senior. After going unselected in the NFL Draft, he elected to retire from the game rather than sign a free-agent contract.

5. Reggie Coleman (2000-01): Jovial off the field and rugged on it, Coleman was an exceptional run blocker during his two seasons as the starting right tackle. He helped make 1,000-yard rushers out of Travis Henry ('00) and Travis Stephens ('01).

6. Eric Young (2006-07): Although he never lived up to his hype coming out of high school, Young started 21 consecutive games before a mid-season quardiceps injury cut short his senior year.

7. Will Ofenheusle (2001-02): Though troubled by back problems, he started for two years and earned some All-SEC recognition as a senior.

8. Leslie Ratliff (1993-94): A two-year starter at right tackle, he was a seventh-round NFL Draft pick but did not stick in The League.

9. Jarvis Reado (1998): He made his lone year as a starter memorable, helping Tennessee go 13-0 en route to winning conference and national championships.

10. Albert Toeaina (2005): At 6-5 and 345 pounds, this juco transfer was perhaps the most imposing physical specimen in Vol annals. The Big Toe's performance never lived up to his appearance but he was a competent starter as a senior.

11. Sean Young (2003): Arriving as a heralded High School All-American, Young struggled with immaturity, briefly quit the team, then earned a starting job as a senior.

12. Josh Tucker (1999): Probably the least-heralded starting tackle of the Fulmer era, Tucker was a surprise starter who did a surprisingly adequate job.

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