This Saturday several (15, by my count, plus Brett Barnes, Stephen Darville, Ryan Hill, Brett Thomason, and Phillip Tritapoe) seniors will play their final game for the Tennessee Volunteers. This Saturday will be even more special as Vol fans will say goodbye to head coach Phillip Fulmer. Here at Rocky Top Talk, I thought we'd take just a few minutes out of each day to honor each senior with a post and comment thread of their own and one for The Papa Friday or Saturday morning. Most will have stats. Many will have highlight videos. Some will have additional gushing praise in the form of actual words. Hopefully, none will go negative. This is graduation, a career achievement, and my hope is that it will be a positive thing for players who have given two or more years' worth of effort so that we can enjoy our Saturdays. I think it can be a positive thing for fans as well as we look back and remember the highlights of these guys' days in orange.
First a note of thanks to Barnes, Darville, Hill, Thomason, and Tritapoe, whose contributions to the team were primarily behind the scenes as scout team players and/or backups who didn't get to see the field much. Your contributions, whatever they might have been, are not taken for granted. Enjoy your last run through the T. You have earned it.
The first post of the week features Antonio Gaines. This is actually Gaines' sixth year as a Vol, as he missed his freshman season in 2003 with an injury and injured his knee in the second game as a fifth-year senior last year. He started both of the games he played in 2007. In his career to date (with just the Kentucky game to go), he's played 33 games for the Vols and had 18 total tackles, 12 of them solo. As a cornerback, he also surely defended innumberable pass plays for which the stat book gives him no credit. His best game came against Cal last year in which he recorded a career-high six tackles, including this one, which, with my apologies, is the only highlight I could locate for him.
Antonio Gaines, thanks from this fan for being a Vol.
Be sure to come back later. We'll have a post for DeAngelo Willingham at 11:30 EST and one for Nevin McKenzie at 2:00 EST.