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The 10 Best Vol Football Players of the 2010s

1. Derek Barnett, DE

If you’re a Vol football player and you break a career record held by either Peyton Manning or Reggie White, you’re pretty special. Derek Barnett did just that, surpassing the legendary White in career sacks in just three years as a Vol.

Coming to Tennessee out of high school, Barnett wasn’t even the most highly-regarded edge rusher in his class. Vol fans were just as excited if not more excited about Dewayne Hendrix than they were Barnett. In fact, players like Dillon Bates, Derrell Scott, Cortez McDowell, and Daniel Helm were rated higher coming out of high school than Barnett.

But Barnett proved everyone wrong.

Barnett finished his illustrious Tennessee career as a multi-year All-American selection and the holder of UT’s all-time sack record. Barnett recorded his 33rd career sack in Tennessee’s Music City Bowl victory over Nebraska, giving him one more than Reggie White’s 32 career sacks. He also finished second only to Leonard Little in school history for career tackles for loss, totaling 52 in his 39 career games. Barnett finished with double digit sacks in all three seasons he played for the Vols, and his 13 sacks as a senior are the third-most in a single season in school history.

At times, Barnett was truly unstoppable off the edge, and his speed rush was something to behold. No one Tennessee defender could affect an offensive game plan like Barnett, and he was rarely contained.

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Barnett is Tennessee’s most recent first-round draft pick into the NFL, and it was a well-deserved selection. Of his 33 sacks, 28 of them came against SEC opponents, and 42 of his 52 TFLs came against conference foes. Barnett shined when the competition was the toughest, and he’s the school’s most accomplished pass rusher in a program that boasts names like Reggie White, Leonard Little, and John Henderson.

There have been few players in recent Tennessee history more single-handedly dominant than Barnett, and he has earned the top spot among Vol players over the last decade.

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