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Happy Birthday - March 24

It's March 24 and we've got four Big Orange birthdays to celebrate today on Rocky Top. Today we're sending 'happy birthday wishes' to incoming football freshman Darrell Taylor and sophomore wide receiver Josh Smith. We're also celebrating with a couple of Tennessee legends in recently graduated softball standout Raven Chavanne and the iconic Peyton Manning

Taylor, a defensive lineman, committed to Tennessee football last February out of Waverly, Virginia. He was rated a four-star recruit after earning second team all-state honors as a senior defensive end at Hopewell High School in 2014. He recorded 60 tackles, including 19.0 tackles for loss and 11 sacks during his senior campaign, not to mention two blocked field goals, three forced fumbles, and six passes defended. Taylor turns 18 years old today. 

A Knoxville native, Smith played only three games in 2014 before undergoing season-ending ankle surgery. He notched 10 catches for 135 yards, including a 40-yard touchdown reception at No. 4 Oklahoma in mid-September. Born this day in 1994, Smith is 21 years old today.

Chavanne wrapped up a stellar four-year playing career with Tennessee softball in 2013. A four-time All-American, Chavanne racked up 355 hits, 13 home runs, and 107 RBIs over three seasons on Rocky Top. She also notched 143 career stolen bases on 156 attempts. The Thousand Oaks, California, native closed her career as UT's all-time leader in batting average (.442), runs (244), stolen bases (143), and on-base percentage (.508).

Finally, today is the 39th birthday of Tennessee's most iconic figure in the legendary Peyton Manning. He finished his illustrious career in the Orange and White holding 42 NCAA, SEC, and Tennessee records while having won the Maxwell Award, the Davey O'Brien National Quarterback Award, the Johnny Unitas Golden Arm Award and Player of the Year honors after his senior season. Since then, he has become one of the most successful quarterbacks in NFL history and a face of the league.

Happy birthday, Darrell, Josh, Raven, and Peyton!

Tuesday's Tennessee Football Briefing (3/24/15)

Team 119 will go through its first practice of Spring on Tuesday. The Vols hit Haslam Field around 4:20 p.m. Get the latest from Coach Butch Jones as he previewed Spring ball on Monday: Jones Pre-Spring Press Conference At Noon

Brian Rice took a look at how Jones has taken steps towards progress in his three years on Rocky Top: Culture & Identity The Key For Team 119.

Coverage from the media includes: 
- Knoxville News Sentinel: Jones hopes young guys are right guys
- Knoxville News Sentinel: Five and Five: Tennessee and the SEC East
- Knoxville News Sentinel: Jones: Dobbs becoming a 'CEO quarterback'

Happy Birthday - March 23

We have four Big Orange birthdays to celebrate on this March 23rd as football's Jordan Williams, men's basketball's Braxton Bonds, soccer's Kiah Allen, and football VFL Carl Pickens are each blowing out the candles today. 

After a 2014 season that included a TaxSlayer Bowl win over Iowa, senior defensive lineman Williams concluded his career on Rocky Top. He started all 13 games during his final season, registering 27 tackles (four for loss) with two sacks and four pass break-ups. He had a career-high six tackles, including a sack, on Senior Night vs. No. 19 Missouri. He finishes his career with 66 total tackles, 6.5 sacks, and 10.5 tackles for loss. Williams was also a member of the 2013 and 2014 SEC Academic Honor Roll. 

A native of Nashville, Tennessee, Bonds redshirted the 2014-15 men's basketball season. The 6-1 guard played prep ball at Christ Presbyterian Academy under head coach Drew Maddux. He helped lead the team to a pair of state championships in 2012 and 2013 and was rated the No. 8 overall prospect in the state of Tennessee. During his senior season, he averaged 15.3 points and 7.8 assists per contest. Nephew of former MLB slugger Barry Bonds, Braxton Bonds turns 20 years old today.

Braxton  Bonds

Allen was a redshirt sophomore for Tennessee soccer this past fall, appearing in 16 matches for UT at defender. She notched one goal and two assists on the year -- scoring on a free kick during her first start against Tulsa in early September. She also successfully converted a penalty in a shootout against No. 8 Florida in the SEC Tournament. In all, Allen logged 833 minutes of action last season. Born this day in 1993, Allen turns 22 years old today.

Kiah Allen

VFL Pickens played wideout at UT from 1989-91, amassing 1,875 career receiving yards over those three seasons. As a junior in 1991, he caught 49 balls for 877 yards and five touchdowns, earning All-America recognition after leading the SEC in yards per game at 79.73. As a freshman, Pickens played both ways and had four interceptions in four games at free safety. He was even named the Defensive MVP of the 1990 Cotton Bowl. He opted to bypass his senior season on Rocky Top to enter the NFL Draft where was picked 31st overall by the Cincinnati Bengals. He was named the NFL Rookie of the Year in 1992 and in 1995 set the Bengals single-season record for receptions (99) and touchdown receptions (17).

Happy birthday, Jordan, Braxton, Kiah, and Carl!

Happy Birthday - March 22

On March 22 we're celebrating the birthdays of soccer's Christine Creighton, rowing's Nikole Metz, and men's tennis legend Rhyne Williams

Creighton is a native of Haverhill, Florida, and recently completed her true freshman season with the Tennessee women's soccer program in 2014. She appeared in 16 matches on the season, logging three goals and one assist. Her first career goal came in the 40th minute of a home match against Mississippi State in late September. She is an elementary education major and turns 18 years old today.

Christine Creighton

Metz is a junior coxswain with the rowing program and is a native of Fayetteville, New York. This season she placed fourth at the Chattanooga Head Race in Women's College 4+ with a time of 18:52.3. The political science major began her collegiate rowing career at SMU before transferring to Rocky Top. She is 21 years old today.

Nikole Metz

Williams played varsity tennis for his hometown University of Tennessee from 2009-11, piecing together two of the best seasons in program history in 2010 and 2011. During those years, he captured consecutive All-America honors and earned the ITA's No. 1 ranking in 2011 en route to reaching the NCAA Singles Championships. He finished his career with a singles record of 83-17 and a doubles mark of 66-14. Williams now competes on the ATP World Tour. 

Happy birthday, Christine, Nikole, and Rhyne!

Happy Birthday - March 21

It's the second day of spring and we've got a trio of Big Orange football birthdays to celebrate! Today we're sending 'happy birthday' wishes to sophomore wideout Josh Malone, sophomore offensive lineman Jashon Robertson, and junior offensive lineman Dylan Wiesman!

A native of Gallatin, Tennessee, Malone caught 23 passes for 231 yards and a touchdown during his freshman season on Rocky Top in 2014. He snagged his first career touchdown against No. 4 Alabama on a nine-yard pass from Joshua Dobbs. He recorded five catches for a season-high 75 yards at No. 3 Ole Miss in mid-October.

Robertson started all 13 games during his true freshman season, becoming the first Vol since current Miami Dolphin Ja'Wuan James 
to start on the offensive line in his first collegiate game. He was also the only member of UT's offensive line to start all 13 games at the same position (right guard). 

Wiesman is known as a versatile lineman who can play any position on the offensive line. He appeared in all 13 games in 2014 for UT, getting two starts along the way. A native of Cincinnati, Ohio, Wiesman served primarily as Mack Crowder's backup at center and earned his first collegiate start in place of Crowder in the Nov. 22 home-finale against Missouri. 

Dylan  Wiesman

Happy birthday, Josh, Jashon, and Dylan!

Happy Birthday - March 20

On March 20 we're celebrating the birthdays of a pair of VFLs: Paul Annacone of men's tennis and Britton Colquitt of football. 

Annacone played three years of varsity tennis for the University of Tennessee from 1982-84. He was a three-time All-SEC and All-American performer for the Vols and was named the Intercollegiate Tennis Association Player of the Year in 1984. That year, he went 51-3 in singles matches while winning the ITA Indoor Singles Championship. He racked up 115 career victories for UT in his three seasons on Rocky Top. Annacone went on to play on the ATP Tour from 1985-92 and later served as coach to World No. 1s Pete Sampras and Roger Federer. He was inducted into the ITA Hall of Fame in 2002. 

Paul Annacone

A Knoxville native, Colquitt served as UT's punter from 2005-08. He closed out his career ranked second on UT's all-time punting list with an average punt of 42.569 yards and recorded a career-long 71-yard punt during his senior season in 2008. He went undrafted in the 2009 NFL draft but was signed to the Denver Broncos active roster later that year. This upcoming season with mark his seventh with the Broncos organization.

Happy birthday, Paul and Britton!

Happy Birthday - March 19

On March 19 we're sending happy birthday wishes to VFL and Tennessee football legend Haskel Stanback

Stanback is considered one of the most productive tailbacks in school history after rushing for 1,730 career yards through three seasons from 1971-73. UT won 28 games over his career on Rocky Top, including victories in the Liberty Bowl and Astro Bluebonnet Bowl. A native of Kannapolis, North Carolina, Stanback recorded 890 rushing yards as a junior in 1972, breaking the school's single-season rushing record that stood for 21 years. His mark would last until 1983. He was drafted in the fifth round of the 1972 NFL Draft by the Cincinnati Bengals and went on to play five years with the Atlanta Falcons. 

Happy birthday, Haskel!

Happy Birthday - March 18

On this 18th day of March we're wishing a very happy birthday to former Tennessee linebacker and Philadelphia Eagle Omar Gaither

A native of Charlotte, North Carolina, Gaither played linebacker for the Vols from 2002-05. He was a two-year starter and recorded 210 total tackles, six sacks, and 23 tackles for loss during his time on Rocky Top. As a senior, he racked up 78 tackles, four sacks, and four forced fumbles as he earned second team All-SEC honors for the second consecutive season. Gaither started his 2005 season on the Butkus Award Watch List and was also a member of the 2002 freshman Academic honor roll.

In 2006, he was drafted in the fifth round of the NFL Draft by the Philadelphia Eagles. He remained with the franchise until 2010. He turns 31 years old today.

Happy birthday, Omar! 

Happy Birthday - March 17

We've got five Big Orange birthdays to celebrate on this St. Patrick's Day 2015! Today, we're wishing a happy birthday to football linebackers coach Tommy Thigpen as well as VFLs Cordarrelle Patterson and Robert Lee Suffridge. Also, today is the birthday of women's basketball's Bashaara Graves and soccer's Carlyn Baldwin

Coach Thigpen is heading into his third year at linebackers coach at the University of Tennessee. He has played and coached in seven bowl games over his career, including the Vols' 2015 Tax Slayer Bowl victory back in January. He has been considered one of the top recruiters in the country on multiple occasions, named National Recruiter of the Year by Rivals.com back in 2013. 

Tommy Thigpen

A current wideout for the Minnesota Vikings, Patterson played just one season for Tennessee back in 2012 but made an immediate and memorable impact. In 12 starts, he racked up a school-record 1,858 all-purpose yards and ranked first in the SEC. He notched 10 total touchdowns on the year, doing so in four different ways: receiving, rushing, kick return, and punt return. He was selected as the 29th overall pick of the 2013 NFL Draft by the Minnesota Vikings. 

Bob Suffridge played football at UT from 1938-40 and collected All-America honors in all three years. A two-way player, "Suff" was dominant on both sides of the ball and helped the Volunteers to a 30-0 record during his time on Rocky Top. He was drafted by the Pittsburgh Steelers in 1941, but his professional career was shortened due to his service in the U.S. Navy during World War II. Suffridge was inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame in 1961.

Bob Suffridge

A junior from Clarksville, Tennessee, Graves and her Lady Vol teammates are gearing up for another NCAA Tournament run when they face Boise State at Thompson-Boling Arena on Saturday. This season, Graves is averaging 10.1 points per game to go along with 6.8 boards per contest. She has seven double-doubles to her  name in 2014-15 and became the 40th Lady Vol to surpass 1,000 career points when she scored 17 in a win over Mississippi State.

Bashaara  Graves

A midfielder from Oakton, Virginia, Baldwin played in 21 games and saw 20 starts as a true freshman in 2014. She scored one goal and notched two assists on the season. Prior to arriving at UT, she traveled with the U.S. Under-20 Women's National Team to the 2014 FIFA U-20 Women's World Cup -- one of three incoming college freshmen to be named to the team.

Carlyn Baldwin

Happy Birthday - March 16

On March 16 we're wishing a happy birthday to freshman rower Katherine Pearson

Katherine Pearson

A native of Garden City, New York, Pearson is a member of the novice squad. At Pomfret School, she was a member of the varsity rowing team, squash team, and cross country team. She is majoring in business at UT and turns 19 years old today.

Happy birthday, Katherine!

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