Aug. 15, 2012
Peyton Manning's legend will never die. Arguably the best quarterback in Tennessee history, he finished his illustrious career holding 42 NCAA, SEC and Tennessee records.
After being pressed into action as a freshman due to injuries to Jerry Colquitt and Todd Helton, Manning performed admirably as he led the Vols to an 8-4 record and a 45-23 victory over Virginia Tech in the Gator Bowl.
Manning would become a nationally-recognized star as a sophomore in 1995 after guiding the Big Orange to a near-perfect 11-1 record and finishing sixth in the Heisman balloting. The Vols would once again win their bowl game, defeating Ohio State 20-14 in the Citrus Bowl.
The 1996 season saw Manning and the Vols go 10-2, culminating in a 48-28 triumph over Northwestern in their second consecutive appearance in the Citrus Bowl. Although Manning had already finished his degree and was projected to be the top pick in the NFL Draft, he returned to Rocky Top for a fourth and final season.
With his sights set on a higher goal, Manning would help deliver the Vols their first SEC championship since 1990 as he paced them to an 11-2 record, including a 7-1 mark in league play for the third straight year.
That season, Maning captured the Maxwell Award as the nation's most outstanding player, the Davey O'Brien National Quarterback Award, the Johnny Unitas Golden Arm Award and Player of the Year honors, securing his All-America status in 1997. He also won the Sullivan Award as the nation's top amateur athlete.
The Tennessee quarterback became the fourth in NCAA history to pass for 11,000 yards and threw for more than 300 yards in 18 games. He finished with 11,201 yards as Tennessee's most prolific offensive player in leading the Vols to the 1997 SEC Championship.
He was the No. 1 draft pick in the 1998 NFL Draft by the Indianapolis Colts and is currently the starting quarterback for the Denver Broncos. Entering his 15th year in the NFL, Manning has solidified himself as a sure-fire Hall-of-Famer, having been named the MVP four times, a Pro Bowler 11 times and reaching the Super Bowl twice, winning it and claiming game MVP honors in 2006.
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