Draft UT's worst since '63

New head coach Lane Kiffin's stated mission is to upgrade the talent level in Tennessee's football program. Clearly, he came to the right place.

Defensive end Robert Ayers, though a first-round pick, was the only Vol selected in last weekend's National Football League Draft. That is the program's worst draft yield in 46 years. After halfback Glenn Glass was pegged by the Chicago Bears in Round 17 of the 1962 draft, the Big Orange was shut out completely in the '63 draft.

At least one media outlet is reporting that Tennessee also had just one player picked in the 1993 draft but that is incorrect. NFL and UT records indicate there were two; defensive end Todd Kelly was chosen by the San Francisco 49ers in Round 1 and defensive back Dave Thomas by the Dallas Cowboys in Round 8.

It is worth noting that not one player off of Alabama's 2007 team that went 7-6 was selected in the 2008 NFL Draft. Nick Saban reeled in a No. 1 recruiting class, however, and his Tide bounced back to go 12-2 last fall. Clearly, one weak senior class isn't the end of the world.

Tennessee, however, has had back-to-back weak senior classes. Just three UT players were selected a year ago – linebacker Jerod Mayo (Patriots) in Round 1, tight end Brad Cottam (Chiefs) in Round 3 and quarterback Erik Ainge (Jets) in Round 5.

Having four players drafted in a two-year span might be cause for celebration at Vanderbilt but it's cause for concern at Tennessee, which historically has been one of college football's foremost producers of pro-caliber talent.

Consider:

- The 1990 Vols had nine players drafted, including three (Charles McRae, Antone Davis, Alvin Harper) in Round 1

- The 1991 Vols also had nine players drafted, including two (Dale Carter, Chris Mims) in Round 1.

- The 1999 Vols had nine players drafted, as well, including two (Jamal Lewis, Shaun Ellis) in Round 1

- The 2001 Vols had a school-record 10 players drafted, including three (John Henderson, Donte Stallworth, Albert Haynesworth) in Round 1.

Since the NFL Draft was instituted in 1936, Tennessee has failed to produce a single draftee only twice ... in 1938 and '63. And, prior to last weekend, only seven times in program history did Tennessee produce just one draftee:

- End Roy Rose was selected in Round 4 of the 1936 draft.

- Back Phil Dickens was tabbed in Round 6 of the 1937 draft.

- End Al Hust was chosen in Round 3 of the 1943 draft.

- End Jim Powell was picked in Round 28 of the 1948 draft.

- Tackle Norm Meseroll was taken in Round 15 of the 1950 draft.

- Tackle Jerry DeLucca was an expansion pick of the fledgling Dallas Rangers in 1960.

- Glass in 1962.

For what it's worth, only eight times in program history have the Vols produced just two draftees:

- Back Babe Wood (Round 8) to the Chicago Bears and end Bowden Wyatt (11) to the Chicago Cardinals in 1939.

- End Al Russas (Round 13) to the Detroit Lions and back Bob Lund (14) to the Philadelphia Eagles in 1949.

- Back Bill Barbish (Round 8) to the Cleveland Browns and tackle Bob Fisher (10) to the Pittsburgh Steelers in 1954.

- Tackle Steve DeLong (Round 1) to the Chicago Bears and fullback Whit Canale (17) to the Pittsburgh Steelers in 1965.

- Linebacker Ron McCartney (Round 2) to the Los Angeles Rams and tight end Tommy West (16) to the Tampa Bay Bucs in 1976.

- Defensive back Roland James (Round 1) to the New England Patriots and linebacker Craig Puki (3) to the San Francisco 49ers in 1980.

- Linebacker Keith DeLong (Round 1) to the 49ers and quarterback Jeff Francis (6) to the Los Angeles Raiders in 1989.

- Defensive end Todd Kelly (Round 1) to the 49ers and defensive back Dave Thomas (8) to the Dallas Cowboys in 1993.


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