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The Top 5 Quarterback Seasons in Tennessee History

Tennessee Quarterback Seasons
© Delores Delvin/The Tennessean/USA TODAY NETWORK

The University of Tennessee, like many big-time college programs, has produced several all-time great quarterbacks. Those quarterbacks have put up huge numbers to help UT win conference championship games, big major awards, and national championships.

These are the top 5 quarterback seasons in Tennessee football history.

No. 1 Tennessee Quarterback Season: Peyton Manning, 1997

Peyton Manning still has the most productive season for a quarterback in Tennessee football history. In 1997, Manning threw for over 3,800 yards and 36 touchdowns en route to the Volunteers winning the Southeastern Conference.

He also finished second in the Heisman Trophy voting to Michigan defensive back Charles Woodson, but you could argue that he should’ve won the award.

No. 2 Tennessee Quarterback Season: Erik Ainge, 2007

One of the greatest turnaround stories in Tennessee football history, Erik Ainge went from a disaster in 2005 to leading the Vols to the SEC East title in 2007. Despite limited offensive talent outside of running back Arian Foster, he threw for over 3,500 yards and 31 touchdowns.

Tennessee Quarterback Seasons
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His finest performance was a 7-touchdown masterpiece in a 4-overtime win over the Kentucky Wildcats to clinch the SEC East. That game happened in the regular season's final week. 

No. 3 Tennessee Quarterback Season: Joshua Dobbs, 2016

Butch Jones, Tennessee’s coach at the time, was able to extend his career on Rocky Top largely due to the performance of Joshua Dobbs.

In 2016, Dobbs threw for over 2,900 yards and ran for another 830 yards while scoring 39 touchdowns.

When looking at his total offensive numbers, it's the second-most productive season in history for a Tennessee quarterback. 

No. 4 Tennessee Quarterback Season: Hendon Hooker, 2021

Despite not being the starter when the 2021 season opened, Hendon Hooker immediately helped coach Josh Heupel’s offense take off in his first year on Rocky Top.

Hooker threw for over 2,900 yards and ran for another 616 yards while scoring 36 touchdowns with an insanely low 3 interceptions. Add in his over 9.5-yards per attempt, and his efficiency was through the roof. 

No. 5 Tennessee Quarterback Season: Tyler Bray, 2012

It was tough to put this on the list as Tyler Bray didn’t play well down the stretch of games in 2012. This was a big reason why Tennessee finished just 5-7.

Tennessee Quarterback Seasons
© Randy Sartin-USA TODAY Sports

However, you can’t ignore the numbers that Bray produced. In 2012, he threw for over 3,600 and 34 touchdowns despite having 1 of the worst defenses in the Southeastern Conference.


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