June 21, 2024

Top 10 Players in Tennessee Football History – No. 7

The countdown of the 10 best football players in Tennessee history continues with No. 7.

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Beattie Feathers

Running back, 1931-1933

Nicknamed the “Bounding Antelope”, Feathers was a force out of the Volunteers’ backfield during his tenure on Rocky Top. Feathers is often forgotten when discussing the greatest players in program history, but he is undoubtedly a legend.

The Bristol, Va. native arrived in Knoxville during legendary running back Gene McEver’s final season at Tennessee. With a great running back on the way out, Feathers held the not-so-enviable position of replacing a legend.

Feathers proved he was not simply a replacement during his two seasons as the featured tailback. He even convinced many that he was an upgrade. In 1933, Feathers was the SEC MVP and an All-American. Sports Illustrated went back to the years before the Heisman Trophy to determine the winners of their respective seasons. Ultimately, they decided Feathers was the nation’s top player in 1933. His contributions helped the Volunteers record back-to-back undefeated seasons in 1932 and 1933.

His legend continued to grow in the NFL. Drafted by the Chicago Bears in 1934, Feathers became the first player in NFL history to rush for 1,000 yards in a season. This feat is commonplace today, so being the first ever is truly special. Perhaps even more impressive is that Feathers averaged 8.4 yards per rush that season, tied for the highest all time in a single season (Michael Vick 2006).

Feathers greatness was validated in 1955 when he was elected to the College Football Hall of Fame.

Featured image by the Tennessee Journalist

Edited by David Bradford

Adam is the Assistant Sports Editor for the Tennessee Journalist and a Junior at UT. Most of his free time is spent watching sports, listening to good music, and enjoying life. If you wish to contact him, you can email him at amillike@vols.utk.edu, follow him on Twitter, @AdamMilliken14, or find him at https://www.linkedin.com/pub/adam-milliken/109/a89/a32.