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Happy Birthday - Feb. 21

Three weeks into February and we have two Big Orange birthdays to celebrate! We're wishing a happy birthday to football assistant head coach for defense and defensive backs Willie Martinez as well as to soccer sophomore Colleen Gawkins.

Martinez is entering his third season with Tennessee Football and in 2014 he coached a Volunteer secondary that had 16 interceptions to rank 15th in the NCAA. In his first season at UT, he helped orchestrate a memorable defensive feat against Western Kentucky when the UT defense forced five turnovers over six plays, including back-to-back pick-6s from Justin Coleman and Cameron Sutton. 

During her freshman season in the Orange and White, Gawkins earned minutes in 20 matches while tallying 11 shots and two on goal. The Haymarket, Virginia, native arrived in Knoxville last summer following a senior season at Battlefield High School in which she led the team to a 6A state title and unblemished 23-0 record. She was a 2014 NSCAA High School Girls Soccer All-American and a two-time NSCAA All-Region first team selection.

Willie Martinez Colleen Gawkins
Happy birthday, Coach Martinez and Colleen!

Happy Birthday - Feb. 20

We've got three Big Orange birthdays on Rocky Top on this third Friday of February, as current student-athletes Brueck Ball (rowing) and Brodie Leftridge (baseball) celebrate their respective birthdays, as does baseball VFL Julio Borbon. 

A sophomore from Nashville, Ball is in her second season with Tennessee rowing and first as a varsity squad member. She turns 20 years old today. 

A true freshman from Baltimore, Maryland, outfielder Leftridge is gearing up for his first season with Vol Baseball. He was ranked a top-50 outfielder coming out of St. John's Catholic Prep and was the No. 4 prospect out of the state of Maryland. Leftridge turns 19 years old today. 

VFL Julio Borbon, now with the Baltimore Orioles organization, helped Tennessee reach the College World Series in 2005. He ranked third on that team with a .350 batting average -- the fifth-best batting average for a freshman in Tennessee history. He went on to lead UT with a .366 batting average in 2006 and posted a .345 batting average in 2007 -- his final season on Rocky Top.

Brueck Ball Brodie  Leftridge Julio Borbon

Happy birthday, Brueck, Brodie, and Julio!

Happy Birthday - Feb. 19

On Feb. 19 we're wishing a happy birthday to football mid-year enrollee Quinten Dormady and former Lady Vol tennis great Caitlin Whoriskey!

Quinten Dormady Caitlin Whoriskey

A four-star quarterback out of Boerne, Texas, Dormady arrives on Rocky Top after totalling nearly 6,000 passing yards and 59 touchdown passes in two varsity seasons at Beorne H.S. As a senior, Dormady threw for 2,893 yards and 32 touchdowns en route to leading the Greyhounds to an 8-3 record and a berth in the playoffs. He turns 19 years old today. 


A 2010 graduate from the University of Tennessee, Whoriskey recorded 92 singles victories and 113 doubles wins over her career at UT. She was a three-time All-SEC selection, an All-American as a junior in 2008-09, and advanced to the final of of the 2010 NCAA Doubles Championship with teammate Natalie Pluskota. 

Happy birthday, Quinten and Caitlin!

Happy Birthday - Feb. 17

Two legendary birthdays to celebrate on Rocky Top today as we focus on two great contributors to the storied history of Tennessee football: General Robert Neyland and Stanley Morgan. 

Born February 17, 1892, General Neyland is largely recognized as the man that brought Vols football to national prominence. In 2012, 50 years after his passing, Tennessee honored his legacy with 50 Facts on 50th Anniversary, detailing the incredible life lived by General Neyland and his service not only to the University of Tennessee, but also to his country. 



Today is also the 60th birthday for legendary Vol and NFL receiver Stanley Morgan. A native of Easley, South Carolina, Morgan played at UT from 1973-76, racking up 4,642 all-purpose yards -- still the Tennessee record. He went on to enjoy a successful NFL career with the New England Patriots, appearing in four pro bowls and setting the franchise record for receiving yards at 10,352.



Happy birthday, General Neyland and Stanley Morgan!

Also, for the basketball junkies in our midst, today just happens to be Michael Jordan's 53rd birthday. Which reminds us, there's a pretty big basketball game taking place at Thompson-Boling Arena this evening ... 


Happy Birthday - Feb. 16

Today we're sending out happy birthday wishes to former softball standout, Ivy Renfroe!

Renfroe was a star in the circle for UT from 2010-13, finishing her career with a record of 97-24. She recorded 737 strikeouts while on Rocky Top, notching 29 career shutouts and five no-hitters along the way. The Jackson, Tennessee, native was a second-team NFCA All-South Region pick in 2010, as well as a member of the SEC All-Freshman team. Upon the conclusion of her career, she ranked second in school history in appearances (176) and wins (97). She was third in career innings pitched (749.2) and strikeouts (737).



Happy birthday, Ivy!


Happy Birthday - Feb. 15

We've got three birthdays to celebrate on Rocky Top today as football newcomer Andrew Butcher, track and field's Amirah Johnson, and men's basketball VFL Tony F. White will all be blowing out the candles on February 15.

A four-star prospect at defensive end, Butcher is an early enrollee at Tennessee and has been on campus since January. Butcher is a native of Alpharetta, Georgia, and piled up 167 tackles and 23.5 sacks during his prep career. As a senior, he led Alpharetta H.S. to a region championship and a 10-2 record, recording a team-best 89 tackles and 18 sacks along the way. Butcher is 18 years old today.

Andrew Butcher

A cross country and outdoor track and field senior, Johnson recently recorded a new career-best in the indoor 1000 meters (2:56.14). She has been a staple for the Volunteers in all three seasons of the track and field year: cross country, indoor, and outdoor. This fall she wrapped up her cross country career, finishing third on the team in five of her six races on the season. Today is Johnson's 22nd birthday.

Amirah Johnson

VFL White played basketball at Tennessee from 1983-87 before being selected by the Chicago Bulls in the second round of the 1987 NBA draft. He went on to split time with the New York Knicks and Golden State Warriors before seeing out the remainder of his playing career overseas. White's most memorable performance in the Orange and White came on Feb. 14, 1987 when he scored 51 points in leading the Vols past Auburn 103-84. That mark still stands as UT's single-game scoring record.


Happy Big Orange birthday, Andrew, Amirah, and Tony!


Happy Birthday - Feb. 13

Wishing a happy birthday today to football VFL Charlie Garner III and former Tennessee softball All-American Kristi Durant!

After transferring to Tennessee from Scottsdale Community College, Garner competed on Rocky Top from 1992-93, finishing with 2,089 rushing yards and 10 touchdowns over those two seasons. Garner went on to be drafted by the Philadelphia Eagles in the second round of the 1994 NFL draft and went on to play for the San Francisco 49ers, Oakland Raiders, and Tampa Bay Buccaneers over his 11-year NFL career.


A two-time Louisville Slugger/NFCA All-American, Durant was a member of the Lady Vol softball team from 2003-06. She concluded her career at Tennessee with a .388 batting average, including 315 hits and 203 RBIs. 

Kristi Durant Kristi Durant

Happy birthday, Charlie and Kristi!


Happy Birthday - Feb. 12

We've got three Big Orange birthdays to celebrate today! Sending out special birthday wishes to current track and field student-athlete Felecia Majors, as well as VFLs Inky Johnson (football) and Chessey Thomas (women's golf)!

A sophomore from Lorton, Virginia, Felecia Majors is coming off a freshman season in which she earned All-America honors in both the 200 meters and 400 meters during the indoor season. She is UT's current freshman record-holder in the 400 meters with a time of 52.65. In the outdoor season, Majors earned three top-20 finishes at her first SEC Outdoor Championships. The 2015 indoor season has seen Majors compete in the 60-meter dash, 200 meters, 300 meters, 400 meters, 500 meters, and long jump, not to mention the 4x400-meter relay and distance medley relay. Majors turns 20 years old today.

 Felecia Majors

A 2013 SEC Football Legend, Inky Johnson played in 23 games for Tennessee at defensive back before his promising career was cut short by injury. He finished his career with 41 tackles, one sack, one interception, and 10 pass breakups. Using his story of overcoming adversity, Johnson has become a mentor and regarded public speaker for underprivileged youth in both Knoxville and his hometown of Atlanta. 



Chessey Thomas graduated from the Tennessee women's golf program last year and concluded her career ranked eighth on the Lady Vols' all-time career low average list (75.15). She notched one tournament victory while on Rocky Top, taking the Lady Bulldog Individual on Feb. 8, 2014. For her career, Thomas posted 21 rounds of par or better, four top-10 finishes, and a career-low round of 66. 

Chessey Thomas

Happy birthday to Felecia, Inky, and Chessey!

Happy Birthday - Feb. 11

Four -- count 'em -- four VFL birthdays to celebrate on this 11th day of February! Decorated volleyball alumna DeeDee Harrison, football great Jabari Greer, men's basketball alumus Dyron Nix, and former soccer goalkeeper Jessica Rolfs will all be blowing out the candles today.

A native of Nashville, Harrison was a stellar middle blocker for the Tennessee volleyball program, earning All-America status in 2011. The 2012 graduate is UT's career leader blocks per set (1.21) and ranks second in career blocks (161) in the 25-point rally scoring era. She currently plays professionally in Israel for Maccabi Even Yehuda. 



Former Vol football defensive back Jabari Greer was born on Feb. 11, 1982. After a 10-year NFL career spent with the Buffalo Bills and New Orleans Saints, Greer retired from professional football this fall. He started 51 games in the Tennessee secondary during his time on Rocky Top, tallying 147 tackles and two interceptions. He was also a standout track and field athlete who qualified for the 2002 NCAA Outdoor Championships in the 110m hurdles. Greer currently ranks third all-time in the event (13.32). 



We also celebrate the birthday of former Tennessee basketball player Dyron Nix -- a member of the Vols All-Century team. Nix led the SEC in scoring as a junior in 1987-88, putting up 22.2 points per game. For his career at UT, Nix averaged 16.6 points and 8.4 rebounds per contest and his 1,877 career points are the eighth-most in school history. He was drafted 29th overall by the Charlotte Hornets in 1989, but embarked on a 10-year career overseas. Nix passed away on Dec. 16, 2013 at the age of 46.



Today is also the 24th birthday of former goalkeeper Jessica Rolfs. The 2013 graduate battled through two season-ending injuries during her career on Rocky Top, making her first career start on Senior Night.


Happy Birthday - Feb. 10

On this 10th day of February we celebrate a pair of football birthdays on Rocky Top: one belonging to a young man gearing up for his senior stint in the Orange and White and another for one of our newest Vols. 

Coming off his redshirt junior season, tight end Alex Ellis turns 22 years old today. Ellis appeared in all 13 games for UT last season, making six catches for 115 yards, including a stretch of at least one in five straight games from Oct. 19-Nov. 22. The Del Mar, Delaware, native hauled in the first touchdown grab of his career in memorable fashion when he took a 31-yard pass from holder Patrick Ashford into the end zone (and nearly into the stands) on a fake field goal versus No. 19 Missouri on Nov. 22. 

Also celebrating a birthday today is one of the newest members of Team 119: incoming freshman Micah Abernathy. A 6-0 defensive back from Atlanta, the four-star recruit will join the Vols next fall from Greater Atlanta Christian School. Playing both cornerback and tailback in high school, Abernathy was the leading rusher in Gwinnett County in 2014 with 1,526 yards and 20 rushing touchdowns, earning him 2014 Atlanta Journal-Constitution Offensive Player of the Year honors. Micah turns 18 years old today. 

Happy BIG ORANGE birthday to both Alex and Micah!

Alex Ellis 

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