Aug. 4, 2012
Hank Lauricella was "Mr. Every-thing" during one of the most prominent stretches in UT football history. His small stature - 5-foot-11, 175 pounds - fit the mold of a Tennessee tailback in Gen. Robert R. Neyland's single-wing attack.
The 1948 recruits have been called the best freshman class in Vol history, and it is hard to argue.
By his 1950 sophomore campaign, Lauricella called all the plays as the tailback and also played safety. He earned All-SEC, but his best was yet to come.
In the 1951 Cotton Bowl against Texas, Lauricella set up Tennessee's first score with perhaps the most memorable run in school history. From the Vols' 20-yard line, Lauricella knifed his way through the Longhorns' defense and reversed field three times to allow for blocking help before finally being brought down at the Texas 5. The 75-yard run led to the Vols' first touchdown in a 20-14 win. Lauricella finished with 131 yards on the day.
He was named All-SEC and All-America in 1951, averaging 7.9 yards per carry in leading the Vols to a 10-0 regular season. Tennessee was named national champions prior to its Sugar Bowl appearance and Lauricella finished second in the Heisman Trophy voting.
During his career, Lauricella helped Tennessee to a 28-4-1 overall record, including a streak of 20 consecutive wins. He led the team in passing, rushing, total offense and punting his junior and senior years.
Lauricella later was elected to the Louisiana State House (8 years) and Senate (24 years).
Al Wilson just might have been one of the greatest linebackers in Tennessee history, and his leadership was even more special, acting like a quarterback for the defense.
His unique leadership was unparalleled on The Hill, and it carried over into a season that was much the same.
He was the Vols' only All-America selection from the 1998 undefeated national championship team.
The UT captain ranked third on the team that year with 77 tackles despite missing the three games to injury, the first since he was a freshman. His highlight was a 12-tackle performance in UT's 20-17 overtime win in Knoxville against No. 2-ranked Florida in which he set a school record with three caused fumbles.
Wilson was drafted by the Denver Broncos in the first round of the 1999 NFL Draft, where he played his entire eight-year career (1999-2006). He passed the 100-tackle mark in each of the last five seasons in the NFL, including 109 tackles in 2004 to rank second on the Broncos. Wilson led Denver in tackles for the second consecutive year in 2003 with 128 tackles. He was a five-time Pro Bowl selection and a two-time All-Pro pick during his NFL career.
Blocking Back (1958-61)
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