On April 24 we're sending happy birthday wishes to Tennessee basketball legend, Ernie Grunfeld!
Now the president of the Washington Wizards in the NBA, Grunfeld scored 2,249 points for the Volunteers between 1973-77. That figure ranks second all-time at UT, as does his 22.3 points per game career scoring average. A two-time All-American, Grunfeld had his No. 22 jersey officially retired by UT on March 2, 2008. Following his playing career, Grunfeld played in the NBA for nine seasons before becoming the general manager of the New York Knicks and eventually the Milwaukee Bucks.
Today we're celebrating the birthday of one of Tennessee's basketball legends: Allan Houston!
Houston is UT's all-time leading scorer at 2,801 points in his 128 games over four years on Rocky Top. He trails only Pete Maravich on the SEC's all-time scoring chart. Houston was a two-time All-American and a four-time All-SEC selection, Houston went on to play 12 seasons in the NBA with the Detroit Pistons and New York Knicks. In 2011, Tennessee retired his #20 jersey to make him the third UT men's basketball player to have his number retired at Thompson-Boling Arena.
Houston is currently an assistant general manager for the Knicks.
On April 17 we're sending out happy Big Orange birthday wishes to two men's basketball VFLs: Dane Bradshaw and C.J. Watson!
Bradshaw was a point-forward for the Volunteers from 2004-07, boasting a career assist/turnover ratio of 2.14 while helping guide UT to a pair of NCAA Tournament appearances over his final two seasons. He was selected as a member of Tennessee's All-Century team in 2009. In October of 2014 it was announced that Bradshaw had accepted a gig with the SEC Network as a basketball analyst for the 2014-15 season. Born this day in 1984, Bradshaw is celebrating his 31st birthday.
Watson played point guard for Tennessee for four seasons, turning in his best campaign during his senior year in 2005-06. That year, he averaged 15.3 points, 3.9 assists, and 3.1 rebounds per game en route to second team All-SEC accolades. He closed out his Vol career as the program's second all-time leader in career assists (577) and steals (198). Following the conclusion of his college days, Watson played two seasons overseas before joining the Rio Grande Valley Vipers of the NBA D-League. On January 8, 2008, Watson signed on with the Golden State Warriors and has remained in the NBA ever since. He has played with the Chicago Bulls, the Brooklyn Nets, and is currently a member of the Indiana Pacers.
The Vol Network's "Vol Calls" Lineup is set for tonight at 8 p.m. ET / 7 p.m. CT
New Tennessee Basketball Coach Rick Barnes will be on-site with hosts Bob Kesling and Brent Hubbs at Calhoun's On the River, as will former Vol punter Matt Darr. The show will also feature interviews with Tennessee head football coach Butch Jones, tight end Ethan Wolf and linebacker Dillon Bates.
You can tune in on Vol Network stations across the state or listen free online HERE.
Rocky Top has got two birthdays to celebrate on this March 28. We're sending some 'happy birthday' wishes to football's Thomas Edwards and some more to men's basketball VFL Jordan McRae!
After redshirting his true freshman season, Edwards saw his first collegiate action with the Volunteers during the 2014 season. He appeared in two games, making his debut on homecoming against Chattanooga. A native of Kingsport, Tennessee, Edwards played prep football at Dobyns-Bennett High School where he was named first team All-Big Eight Conference. He is 20 years old today.
A four-year letterwinner for Vol Basketball, McRae donned the Orange and White from 2010-14. As a senior in 2014, he started all 32 games and averaged a career-best 18.7 points per contest. He shot 43.6 percent from the field, including a 35.1 mark from beyond the arc. He closed out his career ranked 16th on Tennessee's all-time scoring list (1,521 points) and seventh on the all-time list for 3-pointers made (179). He was selected in the second round of the 2014 NBA Draft by the San Antonio Spurs and was traded to Philadelphia later that night. After a stint in Australia with Melbourne United, McRae returned to the U.S. after being acquired by the Delaware 87ers of the D-League. Just last week, he recorded career-highs with 39 points and 13 boards against the Oklahoma City Blue.
During his first season with the Tennessee men's tennis program, Jones holds a singles record of 8-7 and a doubles mark of 2-2. The Warner Robins, Georgia, native opened his collegiate career with a ranked victory when he defeated No. 94 Alex Arovin of Tennessee Tech (6-1, 6-2) in the opening round of the Southern Intercollegiate Championships. Jones turns 19 years old today.
A five-star wide receiver from Hampton, Georgia, Williams became one of the newest members of Team 119 back on National Signing Day in February. He played his prep career at Lovejoy High School, where he was named first team All-State and earned an invitation to the 2015 Under Armour All-Star Game. He had 43 catches for 916 yards and 13 touchdowns as a senior despite missing a portion of the year with a knee injury. Williams is 18 years old today.
From one of our newest Vols to one of our newest VFLs, defensive back Coleman wrapped up his UT career last fall with 157 career tackles and five career interceptions. Coleman was recently invited to the 2015 NFL Combine, where he recorded the fastest 3-cone drill time of any participant (6.61). He was also third among cornerbacks in both the bench press (20 reps) and the 60-yard shuttle (11.21). Today Coleman celebrates his 22nd birthday.
A defensive back for Vol football from 2002-06, Wade also starred on the track and field team, making his mark in the outdoor relays. His 4x100-meter relay team in 2003 recorded the program's second-fastest time in the event all-time. On the football field, he earned All-SEC honors in 2006 after leading Tennessee in pass deflections and interceptions. Wade was the 84th pick of the 2007 NFL Draft, taken by the St. Louis Rams. He is 31 years old today.
One of Tennessee Basketball's all-time greats, Lofton was the 2007 SEC Player of the Year after leading the conference in scoring at 20.8 points per game. That year, he led the Volunteers to the Sweet 16 and was named a second team All-American. As a senior in 2007-08, Lofton passed Allan Houston to become UT's career-leader in three-pointers made, and not long after that, passed Pat Bradley of Arkansas to capture the record for most career treys all-time in the SEC. Following his collegiate career, Lofton went on to play professionally in Turkey, Spain, and Russia. He is currently under contract with Besiktas -- a Turkish team based out of Istanbul.
Happy birthday Jess, Preston, Justin, Jonathan, and Chris!
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.
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.
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).
It's birthday time in Tennessee and we've got three of them to celebrate on this second Monday in March. Football's Pig Howard turns 22 years old today and will be celebrating his birthday alongside two Tennessee legends: Rudy Klarer and Ron Widby.
Howard recently wrapped up his junior season for the Vols, appearing in all 13 games and making nine starts at the wideout position. He led the team in receptions (54) and in receiving yards (618) and scored three touchdowns -- two rushing and one receiving. He owns a current streak of 33 consecutive games with a catch and his 111 career catches rank 13th all-time at UT.
One of Tennessee football's eight retired jerseys belong to the legendary Klarer, who played guard at UT in 1941-42. A native of Louisville, Kentucky, Klarer lost his life fighting for the United States in World War II. His number, alongside those of Bill Nowling, Willis Tucker, and Ron Fuson -- other Vols who paid the ultimate sacrifice for their country during WWII -- was officially retired in 2006.
Tennessee legend Ron Widby turns 70 years old today. He is the last four-sport letterman in UT history, earning All-American status in both football and basketball as well as one letter in baseball and golf. During his senior year in 1966-67, Widby led nation in punting average at 43.8 yards per kick and went on to average 22.1 points and 8.7 rebounds per game in basketball to help lead the Vols to a conference title. He was first team All-America in both sports and picked up an SEC Player of the Year award in basketball.
``Some people say that I need to take a break and relax a little bit, but basketball is all that I know. This is what I've grown up doing and when I call my mother and my father, they talk to me about the game. It's just embedded in me and it's pretty much all I care about.'' - VFL Tobias Harris
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.
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.
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!