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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 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!


Happy Birthday - March 15

On the heels of this weekend's NCAA Indoor Track & Field Championships -- and on the brink of the 2015 outdoor season, which begins on Thursday -- we have a quartet of Tennessee track and field birthdays to report on this day. Today we're celebrating the birthdays of junior thrower Cameron Brown, junior pole vaulter Jake Blankenship, freshman cross country and middle distance runner Drew Kelley, and VFL from the throws Aslynn Halvorson. Today is also the birthday of rowing's Natalie Tavares

Brown is the 2015 SEC Indoor Champion in the men's weight throw after turning in a winning effort of 74 feet, 1.75 inches (22.60 meters) two weeks ago in Lexington. He was just the second Volunteer in the conference's history to win the event. He is also the current school record-holder in the men's weight throw, having broken Garland Porter's 11-year-old record with a throw of 76 feet, 8.50 inches (23.38) back in February. 

Cameron  Brown

Blankenship is blowing out the candles just two days removed from a silver-medal performance in the men's pole vault at the 2015 NCAA Indoor Championships. He set a new lifetime-best in the event with a vault of 19 feet, 0.25 inches (5.80 meters). That mark is the second-best in program history and also stands as the second-best mark for a runner-up finisher in NCAA history. He has earned indoor first team All-America honors for the second time in his career on Rocky Top. 

Jake  Blankenship

Kelley is in the midst of his first season with the Tennessee track and field program, hailing from Roswell, Georgia. Just two weekend's ago, he set a new personal best in the mile at the 2015 SEC Indoor Track and Field Championships with a time of 4:21.12. 

Drew  Kelley

Halvorson competed in the throws for UT from 2010-14, notching marks in the indoor shot put and weight throw as well as the outdoor shot put, hammer throw, and discus. She ranks seventh all-time at UT in the outdoor shot put (52-5.5/15.99) and is ninth in the discus (169-9/51.75). She owns a degree in kinesiology from Tennessee.

Aslynn Halvorson

A sophomore from Fonthill, Ontario, Tavares has logged two seasons with the varsity rowing squad. This season, she was part of the shell that placed fourth in Women's Cup 8+ at the Head of the Hooch race with a time of 16 minutes, 26.4 seconds. She earned gold during the women's 2- with partner Thomson behind a time of 21 minutes, 20.9 seconds. She is an accounting major at UT.

Natalie Tavares

Happy birthday Cameron, Jake, Aslynn, and Natalie! 


Happy Birthday - March 14

Today we're wishing a happy birthday to soccer's Anna Bialczak and to football VFL Deon Grant!

Born this day in 1996, Bialczak redshirted her first true freshman season in 2014. She is a native of Lutherville, Maryland, and attended McDonough High School, leading it to three IAAM Championships. She was an NSCAA Fall High School Girls All-American in both 2012 and 2013 and in the spring of 2014 she played with the U.S. U-18 Women's National Team in the 10 Nations Tournament in La Manga, Spain. 

Anna Bialczak

Grant starred at defensive back on Tennessee's undefeated 1998 national championship squad. A safety from Augusta, Georgia, Grant played at UT from 1997-99. His leaping, one-handed interception in UT's overtime win over Florida proved crucial in the Vols' march to the BCS National Championship in 1998, and in 1999 he earned consensus first team All-America honors. He was drafted by the Carolina Panthers in the second round of the 2000 NFL Draft and went on to play 12 years in the NFL with stops with the Jacksonville Jaguars, Seattle Seahawks, and New York Giants. He was a member of the Giants' Super Bowl XVLI winning squad.

Deon-Grant-vs-Eagles-11-2-08.jpg

Happy birthday, Anna and Deon!


Happy Birthday - March 13

On this Friday the 13th of March we've got five, count 'em, five birthdays to celebrate on Rocky Top. Current student athletes Candace Flemmings (rowing), Molly Hannis (women's swimming and diving), and Gustav Aberg Lejdstrom (men's swimming and diving) will each be blowing out the candles today, as will VFLs Tonya Edwards (women's basketball) and David Martin (football). 

Flemmings is a true freshman from Cary, North Carolina, and is a member of UT's novice squad. She attended Green Hope High School where she played basketball and ran track. She is 19 years old today.

Candace Flemmings

One of the senior leaders on the women's swimming and diving squad, Hannis has qualified for this month's NCAA Women's Swimming & Diving Championships. She has clocked a pair of top-three times nationally this season after earning two silver medals at the 2015 SEC Championships in late February. She ranks first in the country in the 100 breaststroke (58.42) after winning the gold medal in Greensboro last December at USA Swimming Winter Nationals and ranks third in the women's 200 breaststroke (2:06.98) after earning second place i the same pool the next night. She has collected 13 SEC medals over her storied career. Hannis is 23 years old today.

Molly Hannis

Aberg Lejdstrom is a junior from Helsinborg, Sweden. During this last season, he picked up a win in the 200 freestyle with a time of 1:44.24 to open the year at UNCW. At that same meet, he anchored the 200-yard medley relay team to a first-place finish. He earned three A final appearances at the Nike Cup in the 100 free, 200 free, and 100 fly. He turns 23 years old today. 

Gustav  Aberg Lejdstrom

Edwards played basketball for the Lady Vols from 1986-1990 under head coach Pat Summitt. She was a two-time national champion, helping the squad to national title in 1987 and 1989 and scored 1,309 points in her career. After her playing career, she went on to play professionally in Spain, Turkey, and Israel before returning to America to play in the American Basketball League. When the ABL folded, she was selected by the Minnesota Lynx in the 1999 WNBA draft. She also played with the Charlotte Sting and Phoenix Mercury in the WNBA. 

Tonya Edwards

Martin, a football VFL, played wide receiver at Tennessee from 1998-2000 before being selected by the Green Bay Packers in the 2001 NFL Draft. He would play 11 seasons in the league, including stops with the Miami Dolphins and Buffalo Bills, and amassed 152 catches for 1,519 receiving yards and 14 touchdowns. He returned to Knoxville in 2012 to accept his diploma from the University of Tennessee. 



Happy birthday, Candace, Molly, Gustav, Tonya, and David!


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