14 Tennessee The Vols are hurt by lack of experience-- yeah, just like '98, when they won the title

Aug. 14, 2000
Aug. 14, 2000

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Aug. 14, 2000

College Football Preview 2000

14 Tennessee The Vols are hurt by lack of experience-- yeah, just like '98, when they won the title

Travis Henry knows it looks like a misprint. A running back
cracking the 4,000-yard mark in one season? Sure, and Mark
McGwire's going to hit 120. Yet the Tennessee senior did, in
fact, rush for 4,087 yards as a senior at Frostproof (Fla.) High
in 1996. Not that you'll hear it from him. "I've gotten to the
point where I don't even tell anyone about it anymore," Henry
says. "People don't believe it."

This is an article from the Aug. 14, 2000 issue Original Layout

Almost as unbelievable is that Henry averaged nearly two yards
more per carry (6.3 to 4.5) last season than teammate Jamal
Lewis, the fifth pick of the 2000 NFL draft. After toiling as an
understudy for three years--during which the 5'11", 223-pound
Henry has gained 1,644 yards while starting just five games--he is
now the main man. "People keep telling me this is my time to
shine," he says. "I want to show fans I can do even more."

He'll have to. The Volunteers had more players (nine) taken in
the 2000 draft than any other school, including seven in the
first two rounds. Worse still, the orange-and-white will be green
in all the wrong places. "As a coach, the last places you want to
be inexperienced are quarterback, offensive line and the
secondary," says coach Phillip Fulmer. "But that's where we're

Raw sophomore quarterback Joey Mathews (seven career passes)
holds a slight edge in a three-way battle to replace Tee Martin,
with freshman Casey Clausen closest on his heels. Only junior
guard Fred Weary returns up front. If the line gels, the offense
should be potent enough, with Henry and receivers Cedrick Wilson
and Donte' Stallworth, whom Fulmer calls Tennessee's most
talented wideout since Carl Pickens.

The defense lost three draftees--two from the secondary--but still
boasts several playmakers in end Will Overstreet, tackle John
Henderson, linebacker Eric Westmoreland and free safety Andre
Lott, who played cornerback in '99. There is plenty of talent and
speed, but experience is limited.

That was essentially the prognosis before the Vols' 1998 season,
when a team minus Peyton Manning, Terry Fair, Leonard Little and
Marcus Nash surprised skeptics by going 13-0 and winning the
national championship. When Henry and his teammates got together
for their frequent bowling outings over the summer, that's the
thought they rolled around. "That's all we talk about," Henry
says. "We want to go out and shock the world."

--Pete McEntegart

COLOR PHOTO: JOSEPH REY AU/TEAM COYLE After toiling for three years in a supporting role, Henry is ready to be the Man.

Fast Facts

1999 record: 9-3 (6-2, 2nd in SEC East)
Final ranking: No. 9 AP, No. 9 coaches' poll

Telling Number

Phillip Fulmer's winning percentage (76-14-0), the highest among
active coaches.

The Book

An opposing team's coach sizes up The Volunteers

"They have problems. You lose nine players to the NFL, and
you'll feel it....They're hurting at quarterback. Mathews isn't
anything special. I didn't think A.J. Suggs was that good in
high school. Clausen is supposed to be good, but he's a
freshman....They haven't brought in any receivers lately, and
the line lacks depth....The D is big up front, and the
linebackers can run. They'll rely on defense and hope the
quarterback doesn't get them beat."

Strength: 15th of 115

30 at LSU

Oct. 7 at Georgia
28 at South Carolina

Nov. 4 at Memphis
25 at Vanderbilt