Running back, 1953-56
There is no discussion about the tradition at the University of Tennessee without mentioning the iconic Johnny Majors.
Hailing from Lynchburg, Tn., Majors provided early flashes of brilliance on the field when he led his high school football team to the state championship in 1951.
At Tennessee, Majors was the embodiment of a do-it-all player. His primary position was halfback, but as the leader of Robert Neyland’s famous single-wing offense, Majors was also responsible for throwing the ball. Additionally, he punted and returned kicks. An appropriate depiction of Majors’ style was that of an iron man — a player who played a multitude of positions and never complained despite the physical punishment.
One of the most decorated players in Vols’ history, Majors was an All-SEC selection and SEC MVP in both 1955 and 1956. He also earned All-American honors in 1956 and finished second in the Heisman Trophy voting, losing to Notre Dame’s Paul Hornung.
After his stint on the field with Tennessee culminated in 1956, Majors moved to the sidelines and became a head coach. After experiencing minor success at Iowa State, Majors truly established himself as a formidable coach at Pittsburgh. With the Panthers, Majors won a national title in 1976. However, Majors couldn’t stay away from Rocky Top after too long, and became the program’s head coach in 1977.
The program Majors inherited was in absolute shambles, but after a few seasons, he steered the Vols in the right direction. Despite guiding the program back to the success fans were accustomed to seeing, Majors was unable to capture at national championship for the Vols.
To put it simply, Majors is a Vols’ Vol. He is the embodiment of what giving your all for Tennessee is. During his career at Tennessee, Majors accumulated 1,622 yards rushing and 15 rushing touchdowns, along with 1,135 passing yards and 10 passing touchdowns. As a coach, Majors finished with an overall record of 185-137-10, including a 116-62-8 record at Tennessee.
Majors is an undeniable great in not only Tennessee’s history, but also college football’s history. His place in the Pantheon of Tennessee football will never be questioned.
Featured image courtesy of U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Nashville District
Edited by Jordan Dajani