July 5, 2012
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 - domination on the field. His junior and senior seasons, 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 recognition. Kiner was SEC Defensive Player of the Year thanks in part to 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. Kiner was inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame in 1999.
Jamie Rotella became the sixth Tennessee linebacker to earn AllAmerica status in seven years his senior year of 1972 despite his name missing on preseason predictions. Nobody predicted the greatness of his tackling ability. After making 112 tackles as a sophomore and 111 as a junior, Rotella dominated on the defensive side his senior year and collected 190 total tackles at linebacker. His 413 career tackles were good enough to destroy the school record, although it has since been broken. However, Rotella earned his total in just three years of varsity play. He topped the single-season Tennessee list of tackle assists with 90 in 1972.
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