Witten's on the verge of record year

Vol tight end Jason Witten needs just three catches, two yards and two touchdowns in Tennessee's remaining games to set school records for his position.

Witten, a 6-6, 265-pound junior from Elizabethton, is the only Vols receiver with a catch in every game this season. Through 10 games his numbers -- 31 catches for 414 yards and five touchdowns -- lead all SEC tight ends.

''Those are amazing numbers, considering all we've been through with the quarterback position,'' UT head coach Phillip Fulmer said. ''I think Jason's one of those guys who could easily end up with 50 or 60 catches in a season. If Casey (Clausen) had been here the whole time I don't think there's any question he would already be close to those numbers''

Ken DeLong caught 34 passes for the 1968 Vols to lead all UT tight ends in that category. Jeff Smith finished with 416 receiving yards in 1984 to lead in that area, and Austin Denney caught seven touchdown passes for the 1966 Vols to set the standard in that regard.

With 60 career catches for 718 yards and seven TDs, Witten also has a good shot at some UT career records for tight ends. Reggie Harper (1977-80) caught 98 passes for 1,141 yards to lead in those categories, while Denney and DeLong share the career touchdown mark with nine apiece.

"He's definitely a big-time player and with another year he'd be even a bigger-time player," Fulmer said of Witten. "At the same time, Jason's very unselfish and does what it takes to win. You need a tight end that's that versatile, particularly in our offense."

Witten admitted this week that he is looking into the possibility of turning pro following this season. He conceded that Vol teammate Kelley Washington's injury-plagued season could affect his decision on whether or not to return for another year of college ball.

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