Vols Jersey Countdown #31

July 31, 2012

Timber Tops
Curt Watson
Fullback (1969-71)

The only Tennessee player to earn First Team All-SEC honors while wearing number 31, Curt Watson did so three times as the Vols' starting fullback from 1969-71. Dubbed "The Crossville Comet," Watson still ranks sixth all-time in the UT record book with 529 rushing attempts and ninth with 2,364 rushing yards. He scored 24 touchdowns during his time at Rocky Top and recorded eight games with 100+ rushing yards, including a 121-yard effort against Florida that earned him Most Outstanding Player honors in the 1969 Gator Bowl. The Bill Majors Award winner in 1971 for the dedication he displayed toward football, Watson closed out his sterling career with a 17-yard touchdown run late in the fourth quarter of the 1972 Liberty Bowl to lead Tennessee to a 14-13 win over Arkansas. A sixth-round pick by New Orleans in the 1972 NFL Draft, Watson was inducted into the Tennessee Sports Hall of Fame in 1999.

Tom Bronson
Linebacker (1987-88)
"I signed with Tennesse in 1986 and was issued the number 40 during my redshirt freshmen year because 31, the number I had requested, was being worn by an upperclassman. In the spring of '86, # 31 was issued to me and I wore it proudly from then on. The reason that the number was special to me was that my dad, Tommy Bronson, was a former Vol and wore that number in the late 50's. He was a fullback on the teams with Johnny Majors and his roommate, Bill Johnson, and has always been such a proud Volunteer and has given so much back to the university. I chose the University of Tennessee in huge part because his love and passion for the school were so contagious. I acknowledge that there have been so many great players to wear #31, but in my opinion my dad, Tommy Bronson, is the greatest to have ever worn the number. His on and off field accomplishments have been a tribute to the school that he loves. He holds the school and his teammates in the highest regard and has given of his time, energy and resources to make Tennessee a better place.

"Unfortunately, due to a neck injury I was unable to complete my football career at Tennessee and represent the # 31 for the full time. Though my career was cut short I will be a Vol life. My signing class in '86 was arguably one of the best in Vol history. The relationships I forged during my days there, from teammates to coaches to administration, will always hold a special place in my heart. My family's blood runs a deep orange. My wife, Carolyn, is the daughter of my dad's former roommate, Bill Johnson. Many of their teammates jokingly say it was an arranged marriage. Carolyn and I, my parents, her parents and three of our siblings are Tennessee graduates. We share a deep affection for the university and so do our five children."

Bob Mauriello
Fullback (1966-67)
"I wore number 31 for two basic reasons. Prior to coming to UT, my jersey number was 31, so I liked the continuity associated with keeping the same number. Additionally, at the time when I was playing there was a tough running fullback for the Green Bay Packers named Jim Taylor. I always enjoyed his style of running the football and was hopeful that I could emulate his toughness. Although a knee injury shortened my football playing days at UT, I still consider my time spent in Tennessee as one of my best experiences."

Tweet @Vol_Football to let us know who your favorite player to wear No. 35 with the Vols was.

Van Kelly - 1937
James Coleman - 1938-40
Charles Mitchell - 1941-42, 46
Kennie McRee - 1944-45
Tommy Slack - 1948
Fred Mason - 1949
Charley Stokes - 1950-51
Bernard Ballick - 1952
Pat Oleksiak - 1954
Tommy Bronson - 1955-57
Bill Encinosa - 1958-59
Marty Baracca - 1960-61
Stan Mitchell - 1963-65
Bob Mauriello - 1966-67
David Beckler - 1968
Curt Watson - 1969-71
Terry Moore - 1973-75
Rand Willard - 1976
Jesse Briggs - 1977-78
Doug Furnas - 1981-82
Jim Dunkin - 1983-84
Jim Aszman - 1986
Tom Bronson - 1987-88
Rick Brackney - 1989
Keith Jeter - 1990-92
James Smith - 1995
Robert Loudermilk - 1996-97
Jamal Lewis - 1998-99
Gerald Riggs, Jr. - 2003-04
Marsalous Johnson - 2006-09
Jaron Toney - 2011
Tino Thomas - 2012

For the most up-to-date information about Tennessee football, visit UTSports.com/football or follow us on Twitter @Vol_Football.

Tennessee will open the 2012 campaign at the Chick-fil-A Kickoff Game against North Carolina State at the Georgia Dome in Atlanta at 7:30 p.m. on Friday, Aug. 31. To purchase tickets, visit UTTix.com or call the Tennessee ticket office at 1-800-332-VOLS.





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