John Michels was the "best blocking guard in the United States," Gen. Robert R. Neyland once said, and he was definitely one of the best blockers Tennessee ever had.
Michels fulfilled his duties at guard to perfection while playing at UT and his fame started in the 20-14 win over Texas in the 1951 Cotton Bowl. During Hank Laricella's historic 75-yard run, Michels blocked three different men to help set up the play.
Michels paved the way for one of the most dominant running attacks in football history and guided the 1951 Vols to their first consensus national championship. Tennessee rushed for 3,068 yards, scored 40 touchdowns on the ground and rushed for 306.8 yards per game - all still school records.
He was an All-SEC selection in 1951 and received both all-conference and All-America accolades in 1952. During Michels' senior season, he was awarded the Jacobs Trophy given to the SEC's best blocker. In his three years, Tennessee compiled a 29-4-1 record.
Professionally, Michels played the 1953 season with his hometown Philadelphia Eagles before serving in the Army. He returned in 1956 to play for the Eagles and then for the Winnipeg Blue Bombers of the Canadian Football League the following year.
Michels began his coaching career at Texas A&M as line coach under Bear Bryant before returning to guide Winnipeg for seven years. He went on to coach with the Minnesota Vikings for 27 years. In all, he was involved in five Grey Cups and four Super Bowls.