W hen Beattie Feathers set foot on the UT campus in 1931, he was being groomed to fill the shoes of legendary Vol Gene McEver. By the time Feathers stepped off the field three years later, some say he did more than that.
"Beattie didn't think in terms of first downs, only in terms of touchdowns." teammate Freddie Moses said.
In fact, many consider Feathers to rank among the greatest to ever grace the field at Tennessee. A key component in the single wing formation, the "Bounding Antelope" ran to greatness in Tennessee's 13-0 victory over New York University in the 1931 Charity Bowl. His 65-yard punt return gave Vol fans a glimpse of the future.
In Feathers' second season, he was an All-Southern selection. But it was a season in which he was most noted for his eloquent punting duel with Alabama's Johnny Cain in the rain-soaked 7-3 win for Tennessee. Feathers and Cain combined for 40 punts but it was Feathers who scored the winning touchdown late in the fourth quarter for the drenching win.
In 1933, Feathers was the SEC's MVP as well as earning All-SEC and All-America, making him the only Tennessee player to be named All-Southern and All-SEC. During his time at UT, the Vols had two undefeated seasons and went 25-3-2 overall. They were declared 1932 Southern Conference champions.
Feathers then raced to NFL glory as well as the record books. In his rookie year of 1934 with the Chicago Bears, Feathers became the first NFL player to rush for more than 1,000 yards in a single season, finishing with 1,004. He averaged 9.9 yards per carry that year to establish a league record that remains untouched.