Tennessee’s 2019 season will be remembered for the Vols’ improbable comeback and strong finish to the year after a disastrous start.
The Vols began the year with arguably the worst loss in program history, falling 38-30 at home to Georgia State. Tennessee then lost three of their next four games, with their only win coming over FCS opponent Chattanooga. Tennessee sat at 1-4, and all hopes of postseason play seemed lost.
Then, the unthinkable happened.
Tennessee managed to win six of their final seven regular season games, including winning five-straight to end the year. Then in their bowl game — the TaxSlayer Gator Bowl — the Vols had to come back from a 22-9 deficit in the fourth quarter to win 23-22 over the Indiana Hoosiers.
At one point, Tennessee was 1-4. They finished the 2019 season with an 8-5 record, and there were some impressive single-game performances and full-season campaigns that helped the Vols achieve that record.
After the end of Tennessee’s 2019 season, several Vol players ended up scattered across UT’s record books. Whether it was because of a historic performance in a game, a strong season, or the culmination of a solid career, many Tennessee players are in the top 10 or top 15 of several categories all across Tennessee’s record books.
Here’s a look at where several Vols finished the season or their UT careers in Tennessee’s record books.
Jauan Jennings, WR
Tennessee’s top pass catcher for 2019, Jennings put together a great redshirt senior season to cap off an extremely memorable UT career.
Jennings’ 59 catches and 969 receiving yards both rank 11th in UT history in a single season, and his eight touchdown catches finished tied with Alvin Harper and Cotton Letner for the 13th-most in a single season. Jennings also had four games this season where he eclipsed the 100-yard receiving mark. That finished tied with six other Vol receivers for the seventh-most in a season.
With that great end to his Tennessee career, Jennings finished in the top 10 of several career categories in UT history as well.
Jennings finished his career with the fifth-most catches in school history (146), the fourth-most receiving yards (2,153), and tied with Justin Hunter, Denarius Moore, and Cory Fleming for the fifth-most receiving touchdowns (18). His six games of 100-plus receiving yards is tied with five other Vols for the eighth-most in school history in a career.
Darrell Taylor, OLB
This season ended Darrell Taylor’s long Tennessee career, and he finishes as one of the better pass rushers in UT history. Taylor ended his UT career with 19.5 sacks, which places him 10th all-time in career sack totals. He totaled eight sacks in back-to-back seasons for the Vols, becoming only the fourth Vol since 2000 to lead Tennessee in sacks in consecutive seasons.
Daniel Bituli, LB
This season marked the third-straight year where Daniel Bituli led the Vols in total tackles, and he did so this year despite missing the first two games of the year. He’s only the second Vol in school history to lead the team in tackles for three-straight seasons, joining AJ Johnson as the only Vols to ever do so.
Not only that, but Bituli’s 126 career assisted tackles finish tied with Russ Williams for the ninth-most in a UT career.
Marquez Callaway, WR
Marquez Callaway finished his Tennessee career just outside of the top 15 or top 20 of several career receiving categories, but it’s his expertise as a punt returner where his name will live on in UT’s record books.
Callaway finishes his Tennessee career tied with Cam Sutton and Stanley Morgan for the second-most punt return touchdowns in a career with three. His 13.6 yards per punt return finish as the fourth-best in school history (minimum 30 career returns).
Brent Cimaglia, K
Tennessee’s starting placekicker, Brent Cimaglia, had one of the better seasons as a UT kicker in school history. And he has a chance to finish as one of the best kickers in Tennessee history as he returns for his senior season in 2020.
Cimaglia’s 23 made field goals this year are the third-most by a UT kicker in a single season. His 27 attempted field goals are the sixth-most in one season, and he finished the season with the eighth-best field goal percentage in a season (85.19%). His 53-yard field goal against UAB is the eighth-longest made field goal in school history. Cimaglia’s 104 points this season finished tied with Jeff Hall for the fourth-most points scored by a kicker in a single season.
Thanks to that stellar junior season, Cimaglia now has the eighth-most made field goals in a UT career (41), the ninth-most attempted field goals (53), and the second-best career field goal percentage (77.36%). He trails Alex Walls (77.9%) by mere tenths of a percentage point for the No. 1 spot in career field goal percentage at Tennessee.
Jarrett Guarantano, QB
It may surprise you to know that Jarrett Guarantano is sprinkled throughout Tennessee’s career passing ranks, and if he beats out all of UT’s other quarterbacks on the roster for the 2020 season, he has a chance to really move up the career lists.
Guarantano didn’t have the type of redshirt junior season he hoped for, but he did etch his name into the Vol record books with his 415-yard passing performance against Missouri in November. That total is the fourth-highest passing total in a game in school history.
Thanks to that and a few other solid games, Guarantano is in the top 10 of several career passing categories.
Guarantano is currently seventh all-time in career passing yards with 5,062. His 391 career pass completions and 642 pass attempts both rank eighth all-time, and he’s tied with Tee Martin and Bobby Scott for the eighth-most career passing touchdowns (32). Guarantano’s career total of 4,983 yards of offense ranks ninth in school history.
Eric Gray, RB
Freshman running back Eric Gray had an all-time performance in Tennessee’s season finale against Vanderbilt. His 246 rushing yards in that game are the most by a true freshman in UT history, and that total is the fifth-most in a single game by any Vol ever. He also ripped off the second-longest run in school history in that game when he ran 94 yards for a touchdown. His three rushing touchdowns marked the first time since 2017 that a Vol running back had totaled three or more rushing touchdowns in a single game.
Bryce Thompson, CB
Though he started off the season suspended, Bryce Thompson was still able to put his name in Tennessee’s record books thanks to a career performance against UAB.
Against the Blazers, Thompson intercepted three passes, tying the school record for most interceptions in a game. He’s now one of nine different Vols to pick off three passes in a game, tying the likes of Tim Priest, Deon Grant, and Bill Young for the most interceptions in one game.