Inside the Vols Defensive Line

Inside the Vols Defensive Line

Published Jun. 4, 2010 6:58 p.m. ET

Best of the decade: DTs
Mitchell Layton

Posted Jun 3, 2010

Randy Moore

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This is the 10th in a series of articles ranking Tennessee's best players of the decade 2000-2009. Today's focus: Defensive tackles.

1. JOHN HENDERSON: He hasn't lived up to expectations in the NFL but Big John certainly dominated at the collegiate level. The 6-6, 300-pounder started the last half of 1999, then all of 2000 and 2001. He was incredible in 2000, notching 71 tackles and 12 sacks en route to the Outland Trophy as the NCAA's premier lineman. After sitting out his first UT season as a non-qualifier, he recorded 162 tackles and 20.5 sacks over the next three seasons, earning All-America honors in 2000 and 2001. He served as a captain in '01 and was the ninth player picked in the '02 NFL Draft.

2. ALBERT HAYNESWORTH: A classic underachiever, Big Al finally got his act together as a junior in 2001 - recording 36 tackles, 10 tackles for loss, 1.5 sacks and 7 pass breakups. After posting 66 stops in 33 career games, the 6-5, 320-pounder skipped his senior year to turn pro. He was rewarded by being chosen with the 15th pick in the '02 NFL Draft. Haynesworth has gone on to become a much better player in the pros than he was in college.

3. DAN WILLIAMS: He started in 2008 and 2009, and is the only guy on this list who played four full seasons at Tennessee. The rugged Memphian recorded 40 tackles as a sophomore, 48 as a junior and 70 as a senior. Quick enough to play tackle and massive enough to play nose guard, the 6-3, 325-pounder finished college with 160 career stops, including 7 sacks. He was the 26th player picked in the 2010 NFL Draft.

4. JESSE MAHELONA: A junior college transfer, this 6-0, 300-pound Hawaiian earned All-America honors by recording 42 stops and 5 sacks in his first year at Tennessee. Tabbed a team captain as a senior, he slipped to 35 tackles and 2 sacks in 2005. Still, he finished his two-year Vol career with 77 stops and 7 sacks. He was killed in a tragic traffic accident last September.

5. JUSTIN HARRELL: Starting in 2004, 2005 and 2006, Harrell sustained a torn bicep in Game 2 of '06 but courageously played through it in Game 3 vs. Florida before undergoing season-ending surgery. The 6-4, 320-pounder's best season was his junior year, when he recorded 39 stops and 2.5 sacks. After recording 82 stops and 4 sacks in 35 college games, he was taken with the 16th overall pick in the 2007 NFL Draft. Like his college career, his pro career has been hampered