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The 10 Best Vol Football Players of the 2010s

4. Ja’Wuan James, OT

(Photo via Getty Images)

Tennessee only had three players taken in the first round of the NFL Draft off the rosters of their 2010-18 teams. Ja’Wuan James was one of those three, and he’s arguably the second-best offensive lineman to play for the Vols this decade.

James played and started in 49 games as a Vol, breaking the school record for most starts by an offensive lineman in school history. James manned Tennessee’s right tackle spot for his entire career, and if not for the Vols missing out on a bowl game in three of his four seasons, he would’ve smashed the school record for most starts by an offensive lineman. As it is, he still holds the record, but only by one game, surpassing Jeff Smith’s mark of 48 starts.

The 6-foot-6, 318-pound lineman was a Freshman All-SEC selection and was named to multiple All-SEC teams as a senior in 2014. He helped protect Tyler Bray in 2012, as the Vols’ offensive line only allowed eight sacks all season, and he helped UT’s rushing attack put up big numbers in 2013, as the Vols ran for 2,261 yards as a team — the most as a team since 2004.

In terms of pure, raw talent, James’ teammate Antonio “Tiny” Richardson was the best during this era of Tennessee football. But knee problems and injuries held Richardson back from reaching his full potential, and it ultimately led him to retiring from football just two years after leaving UT in 2013.

James, on the other hand, is still active in the NFL.

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