Steve Kiner's outstanding play at linebacker fits the tradition Tennessee holds for the position. And while playing for the Volunteers, Kiner developed a tradition of his own - a tradition of dominating on the field.
Kiner was a three-year starter for UT and began the rise to glory during his sophomore year. That year, 1967, the Vols were crowned SEC champs, finished ranked No. 2 in the nation and Kiner's aggressive style earned him SEC Sophomore of the Year.
But it was his junior and senior seasons in which Kiner took the nation by storm. He was named All-SEC and All-America in 1968 and 1969, making him Doug Dickey's first player to twice earn consensus All-America.
Kiner was on his way to SEC Defensive Player of the Year and national recognition as well after Tennessee's 41-14 victory over Alabama in 1969. The linebacker had five sacks, 11 tackles with five assists, four quarterback hurries, an interception and a forced fumble. "I'll remember that day for the rest of my life," Kiner said. He went on to finish ninth in the Heisman voting.
Kiner led the Vols in tackles both his junior and senior seasons and finished with nine interceptions for his career, a span that saw the Vols go 26-6-1. Kiner helped Tennessee to the SEC title again in 1969, marking its second conference championship in three seasons.
Later a third-round selection by the Dallas Cowboys in the 1970 NFL Draft, Kiner played professional football until 1978, spending time in New England, Washington and Houston.