Defensive Line (2010-11)
The first Vol to be honored as an All-SEC selection while wearing the No. 97, Malik Jackson is currently with the Denver Broncos after being a fifth-round selection in the NFL Draft this past April. Jackson, who played in the Senior Bowl in late January, was named to the All-SEC First Team by the media in 2011 and the All-SEC Second Team by the coaches. Also a 2010 AP All-SEC second team honoree, Jackson led the Vols in tackles for loss (11), sacks (2.5) and quarterback hurries (10) in his senior year. His 56 tackles were a career-high, ranked tied for third on the team and positioned him as one of just two defensive linemen to rank in the SEC's top 50 in tackles per game with an average of 4.6 each outing. He began his career at USC and played two seasons with the Trojans before coming to Knoxville in 2010.
"Coming out of high school, I wore 15. I wore 97 at USC so I just decided to keep the same number when I got to Tennessee. I'm wearing 70 up here in Denver, but I'm actually hoping that will change pretty soon. I got a call when I signed and they asked me what number I wanted. They told me 97 wasn't available and I could have 56, 60, 70 or 72, so 70 was the number."
WHY I WORE THE NUMBER
Defensive End (1994-95)
"I chose #97 when I was 16 years old at Jefferson County High School. As the youngest Collins boy, I wanted to blend in and follow the success of my older brothers who wore numbers 89 and 93. I hoped that if I stayed within four digits, I would be headed in the right direction. Then I realized that "the right direction" may be exactly what this number was trying to represent. I realized that in 1989 and I would graduatehigh school in 1993. Then I thought of the future and I knew that I should be ready to graduate college in 1997. This became a divine path and developed into the obvious choice for me. I was honored to have the privilege to wear #97 and also graduate college in '97 from the University of Tennessee. Thanks to Coach Fulmer, I also graduated with a masters degree in '98 (so maybe I had the number wrong the whole time!) I can't thank the University of Tennessee and Coach Fulmer enough for the opportunity to wear the orange and earn a few degrees along the way that helped me understand, it's about the opportunity, the experience and the life lessons ... no matter what the number!"