The backside of Neyland Stadium’s jumbotron overlooking the Tennessee River will now include two College Football Hall of Fame faces.
On Monday, the College Football Hall of Fame announced its 2021 class, which included former Vols linebacker Al Wilson.
Wilson played for Tennessee from 1995-98. The Jackson, Tennessee native was instrumental in the Vols’ undefeated 1998 SEC and BCS National Championship season, recording 77 tackles, including 12 in a 20-17 win over No. 2 Florida that year.
“It’s truly a blessing to be considered one of the best to play the game at the collegiate level,” said Wilson in a press release. “To my teammates, coaches and all of Vol Nation, this is our award!”
Wilson earned unanimous All-America honors in 1998, the only players on Tennessee’s roster that season to do so. The senior captain was the heart of the UT defense. He tallied 77 tackles during the undefeated season despite missing three games to injury.
“I am so proud of Al Wilson being selected into the College Football Hall of Fame,” Tennessee Director of Athletics Phillip Fulmer said. “He is so deserving, not only for the passion and effort he played with but for his leadership as captain of our 1998 national championship team.
“Al was the epitome of a competitor. He knew the importance of preparation to be great, and he influenced others to follow his lead during the offseason, spring practice, summer workouts and certainly through the fall of that wonderful 1998 season. He was the ultimate teammate and respected by everyone for his dedication, hard work, love of the game and physical play. He found a way to connect personally with everyone on the team on and off the field.”
Wilson now joins 21 other players and four former Tennessee coaches to be inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame, including quarterback Peyton Manning, defensive end Reggie White, tailback Johnny Majors, defensive end Doug Atkins and head coaches Robert Neyland, Bowden Wyatt, Doug Dickey and Phillip Fulmer.
With the induction, Wilson is the sixth defensive player in Tennessee history to reach the College Football Hall of Fame and only the third linebacker, joining former players Steve Kiner, who was elected in 1999 and Frank Emanuel who was elected in 2004.
Wilson’s image was plastered onto the Neyland Stadium jumbotron ahead of the 2018 season, alongside Neyland and former tight end Jason Witten.