Best player in Tennessee Titans history from each SEC team.

The SEC represents college football very well in the NFL. NFL scouts and GM’s love SEC players when it comes time for the NFL Draft. This is because players that come from the SEC have faced NFL level competition their whole college career. So, if a player in the SEC excels in college, it is likely they will excel as a pro. I’m not sure about other NFL teams, but there has been a player on the Titans from each SEC team.

When you look at NFL’s top 100 ranking from 2019, you’ll see that the SEC was represented very well, 27 former SEC players made the list.

Julio Jones, Alvin Kamara, and Odell Beckham Jr. are all products of SEC schools, and they are all thriving in the NFL today. Since the SEC is so dominant in pro football, let’s take a look at the best Tennessee Titans players from each SEC school.

Titans SEC East

Ben Jones
File:Ben Jones 2018 08-09.jpg” by Chipermc is licensed under CC BY-SA 4.0

Georgia Bulldogs – Ben Jones

Most recently, we saw the Titans add former Georgia right tackle Isaiah Wilson in the 2020 NFL Draft. Wilson hasn’t quite had time to beat out Titans veteran Ben Jones as the top bulldog, though.

Ben Jones has played 127 NFL games with both the Houston Texans and the Tennessee Titans. He was drafted by the Texans in the 4th round of the 2012 NFL Draft.

The Tennessee Titans picked up Ben Jones in the 2016 offseason, signing him to a four year deal.

He has been incredible thus far for the Tennessee Titans. So incredible, in fact, that you rarely ever hear about him. If there’s anything I know about offensive lineman, it’s that when you don’t hear about them they are doing their job right.

The Titans front office took notice of Ben Jones’ great play and signed him to a 2-year extension before the 2019 season. The extension keeps him in two-tone blue through the 2021 season and is worth $13.5 million dollars.

Ben Jones was named the Titans 2019 Walter Payton Man of the Year for his contributions to charity through the Jones Mission. The Jones Mission was founded to raise money for at-risk youth.

When you take that into consideration with Jones’ football ability, there is no doubt he is the best Tennessee Titan to come out of the University of Georgia.

Florida Gators – Jevon Kearse

In 2019, Jevon Kearse was selected for the SEC Football Legends class. The SEC Football Legends class is an award given every year that honors great SEC players.

Jevon Kearse was a shoe in for the list. There’s a reason he got his nickname “The Freak.” In his sophomore season, Kearse was named first-team All-SEC after contributing 7.5 sacks and 13.5 tackles for loss. Then, once in the NFL, he dominated.

In his rookie season, Kearse broke the rookie sack record with 14.5 sacks, a record that still stands today.

Jevon Kearse will always be known as a Titans legend. During his 7 seasons with the team he had a total of 52 sacks. A number that ranks fourth in the organization’s history, but first if you only account for after the name change. Kearse was the defensive rookie of the year and made the Pro Bowl three times with the Tennessee Titans.

Before the NFL, The Freak was a legend at the University of Florida.

Tennessee Volunteers – Justin Hunter / Steve Kiner

The Tennessee Volunteers were a tough pick. The Vols have lots of history in the SEC, however, it seems like the Titans organization hasn’t been able to get any of the great players from UT.

Somewhere along the way, I decided to include both Justin Hunter and Steve Kiner.

Justin Hunter was drafted in the second round of the 2013 NFL Draft by the Titans.

In college, Justin Hunter played the for the Vols immediately, he was one of only seven true freshman to play for the team in 2010. He led the team in at least one receiving category in each of his three season. Unfortunately, he was injured in the third game of the season in 2011. Had he not been injured, we could be talking about him as the best Tennessee Volunteers receiver of all time.

While with the Titans he had 1,116 receiving yards and 8 touchdowns. Those stats are similar to what the Titans most recent second round pick, AJ Brown, did in his rookie season alone.

Justin Hunter’s main claim to fame in the NFL is his collection of game-winning touchdowns. Most importantly, his game-winning TD for the Titans. He made a spectacular 34 yard touchdown catch against the San Diego Chargers to win the game.

Steve Kiner played for the Tennessee Titans organization before the move to Tennessee. Kiner was originally drafted by the Cowboys as a 3rd round pick. 3 years later, he became a Houston Oiler.

Kiner was a great inside linebacker for the Oilers, racking up 5 interceptions during his 5 year stint with the team.

At Tennessee, Steve Kiner was an All-American. He even finished 9th in Heisman voting in 1969.

South Carolina Gamecocks – Ryan Succop

The best Gamecock to ever suit up for the Tennessee Titans was recently cut from the team.

Succop made 49 of 69 field goals during his college career, but he did more than kick field goals. Succop served as South Carolina’s kicker, punter, and kick-off specialist.

After spending his first 5 seasons with the Kansas City Chiefs, Succop had been with the Tennessee Titans for 6 years before getting released earlier this offseason.

The Titans haven’t ruled out brining Succop back on a cheaper deal, though.

Kentucky Wildcats – Wesley Woodyard

Wesley Woodyard has had an incredible NFL career playing a total of 12 season. Six of those with the Denver Broncos, and the last six with the Tennessee Titans.

Woodyard had an incredible career at the University of Kentucky, he is the leader in career tackles in the SEC since 2005. He also ranked first in the SEC in forced fumbled during his junior season, forcing 3. He was a defensive leader on a Kentucky team that won two Music City Bowl’s in 2006 and 2007.

As far as his career with the Titans, Woodyard was a solid linebacker for the team for 6 straight seasons. He has major respect from former Tennessee Titan Gerald McRath, who joined the Titans Time Podcast recently.

Without Woodyard, I don’t think the Titans linebacker group is what it is going forward. He made a huge and vital impact on these young men (Rashaan Evans and Jayon Brown) in the early stages of their career. He gave them all the knowledge he has to help them succeed. You can’t ask for nothing more than that.

Gerald McRath on the Titans Time Podcast

Woodyard provided a veteran presence that is hard to come by in the NFL. He was so crucial to the development of the young guys on the Titans defense. Woodyard did all of that while giving 6 season of good defense. He is unquestionably the best player in Titans history out of the University of Kentucky.

Vanderbilt Commodores – Khari Blasingame

Khari Blasingame deserves this spot on the list for his contribution to one of the Titans greatest playoff touchdowns of all time. That play alone cemented Blasingame’s spot as the greatest Titan to come from Vanderbilt, so far.

Jovan Haye could have been the selection here, but although he played two seasons for the Titans, he never really made an impact at all.

Blasingame was able to play a decent role in the passing game down the stretch for the Titans, and as you can see above, he impacted by blocking as well.

He was a team captain at Vanderbilt, and scored 17 total touchdowns during his college career.

Missouri Tigers – Justin Gage

Missouri actually wasn’t an SEC school when Justin Gage attended, but they are now, so we’ll include him. When Justin Gage first began playing football at Missouri he was a quarterback. That was before Missouri discovered his true talent.

Gage was a super talented athlete, he played football for four years during college and basketball for three.

Justin Gage had an 8 year long NFL career. He played four of those seasons with the Tennessee Titans. The Titans wide receiver situation was very bad during the time Gage was there. In both 2007 and 2008, he was the team’s leading receiver. He had less than 800 yards in both of those seasons. Yet somehow, the Titans managed to have records of 10-6 and 13-3 during those years.

Considering the team’s success while Gage was the leading receiver, he deserves the spot on the list.
Derrick Henry

Titans SEC West

Alabama Crimson Tide – Derrick Henry

This one is pretty easy, right? They call him the king for a reason, and he has been exactly that.

Derrick Henry finally became Alabama’s true starting running back in 2015, his junior season. During that season, he put up a ridiculous 2,219 yards on 395 rushing attempts.

The thing to remember about Derrick Henry is that he wasn’t utilized fully during the first two years of his college career. Most running backs will have two to three season of being the main guy in college. Derrick Henry only had one.

Even after two great seasons for the Tennessee Titans, Derrick Henry hasn’t had as much wear and tear as normal 26 year old running backs. Ezekiel Elliot, who is two years younger, has just as much, if not more wear and tear than Henry does.

Henry averaged over 100 yards per game last season. He then averaged 148 yards per game in the 2019 playoffs.

I shouldn’t need to remind you any more of Derrick Henry’s dominance. He’s easily the best Titans player to come from Alabama. Unless you can make an argument for Chance Warmack. Didn’t think so.

LSU Tigers – Kevin Mawae

Kevin Mawae had an insanely long football career. After four seasons at LSU, Mawae went on to play 16 seasons in the NFL.

Mawae is now a hall of famer, which makes it easy to pick him as the LSU selection.

He only played two seasons with the Tennessee Titans, but Mawae made the most of his time in Tennessee. He was a first team all pro once with the Titans and was voted to the Pro Bowl twice while with the team.

Kevin Mawae is an all time great for the Titans. Zach Mettenberger had his run, but Mawae was the only choice as the best Titan from LSU.

Auburn Tigers – Sen’Derrick Marks

Sen’Derrick Marks didn’t live up to his second round selection for the Tennessee Titans, but the list of Auburn players to wear two-tone blue isn’t very impressive.

Soon, Daren Bates might be able to dethrone Marks, but for now, there is no other option.

Marks had four decent seasons with the Tennessee Titans. It wasn’t until he joined the Jacksonville Jaguars that he really had success.

As a member of the Titans, Sen’Derrick Marks only managed to get 3 sacks and 8 tackles for loss in 4 seasons. Numbers that he absolutely crushed with the Jaguars.

After declaring for the draft, Marks claimed that he thought he could be a player like Albert Haynesworth, that didn’t quite pan out like he had hoped, but he had a good enough career to make this list.

Ryan Tannehill and Jamie Blatnick" by KT King licensed by (CC BY 2.0)
Ryan Tannehill and Jamie Blatnick” by KT King licensed by (CC BY 2.0)

Texas A&M – Ryan Tannehill

Ryan Tannehill played for the Aggies just before they joined the SEC. He never actually got to play in the SEC conference, but they made the decision to switch during his senior season.

Tannehill’s college career was somewhat similar to Justin Gage. Ryan Tannehill came to Texas A&M as a wide receiver, but transitioned to quarterback.

Tannehill had his best season as a quarterback in college in 2011. He threw 29 touchdowns and had a passer rating of 133.2.

Going into the 2012 NFL Draft, Tannehill was the #3 QB behind Andrew Luck and RG3. Right before the draft, he was gaining a lot of momentum to be taken inside the top 10. Ultimately, he was selected 8th overall by the Miami Dolphins.

After years of solid, but not elite, QB play with the Dolphins, he was traded to the Tennessee Titans. The Titans traded for him to back up Marcus Mariota, but he took over the starting job and the rest is history.

We all know how great Ryan Tannehill was in 2019, so I won’t bore you with that.

While he didn’t actually play in the SEC, he came from what is now an SEC team, which puts him on the list.

Mississippi State – Jeffery Simmons

Jeffery Simmons is only one year removed from college, and it has been an eventful one.

His draft stock dropped after he suffered a torn-ACL while preparing for thee NFL Draft.

Still, Simmons was a first round selection. The Titans took a chance on him with their first round selection, and so far it seems to have been a good choice, but it’s too early to really tell.

Simmons recovered quickly from his ACL injury, and made an impact during the last half of the season.

Simmons now has a full offseason to prepare without being injured, and Bleacher Report thinks he could break out in 2020.

Jeffery Simmons seems to have all the tools to be a star defensive lineman in the NFL. Time will tell, but hopes are high for him to have a great season in 2020.

AJ Brown Jersey
AJ Brown Jersey

Ole Miss Rebels – AJ Brown

AJ Brown had one of the best rookie season that the Tennessee Titans have ever seen from a wide receiver. Like Jeffery Simmons, he is only one year removed from college, but he has shown big things so far.

Brown was slept on going into the 2019 NFL Draft. The Tennessee Titans selected him in the second round, but in hindsight, several teams probably would have jumped on Brown in the first.

On only 52 receptions, AJ Brown had over 1,000 yards, a spectacular feat, especially for a rookie.

AJ Brown and his college teammate DK Metcalf are both physical freaks. They both terrorized opposing defenses in the SEC. AJ Brown was the better of the two in college, though.

Brown is expected to be an elite NFL wide receiver. It’s hard to say after just one season, but he has already done some incredible things for the Tennessee Titans. He has the potential to be one of the best SEC players to ever play for the Titans.

Arkansas Razorbacks – Cody Hollister

Cody Hollister played for the Titans in 2019, but he only had two receptions for 13 yards.

There hasn’t been any super successful Titans players to come from Arkansas, but Hollister is worth a mention.

Who knows, maybe Hollister will see an increased role in 2020.

 

About The Author Tanner Staggs

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