Slater, from Rhode Island, was a do-it-all starter in 1941 and 1942. A shifty runner with blazing speed, he was also a gifted passer, defensive back, and punter. In 1941, he led the nation in punt returns, averaging 20.4 yards. He was the star of the 1943 Sugar Bowl win over Tulsa, but WWII happened, and Slater enlisted in the US Army Air Corps, where he was navigator on bombers. After the war, he returned in 1946 for one more season as a Vol. He led UT with 6 TD passes, averaged 40 yards per punt, had 2 punt returns for touchdowns, and picked off 4 passes, returning one for a touchdown. His 78 yard punt return vs UNC will go down as one of the greatest plays in UT history. Late in the game, UT was behind when Slater fielded a punt at the 22 yard line. Weaving his way through defenders, he only had HOFer Choo-Choo Justice to beat, but Justice had an angle on him. Slater faked a pitch, which caused Justice to hesitate for a moment, and Slater eased into the end zone smiling. Slater had a great career in Knoxville, but what could have been if not for WWII. Slater played in the NFL for two seasons with the Steelers, leading the league in punt return avg in 1947.
I rate Waggner higher than probably most will, I get that, but his results speak for themselves. After redshirting in 2008, Waggner played for three different Head Coaches and three different DC's while in Knoxville and was switched between his natural cornerback position to safety for depth reasons a couple times. After playing in every game in 2009, starting two, he exploded in 2010. He made 57 tackles and had 4 PBUs. He also had 3 fumble recoveries, and 5 interceptions, 3 of which he returned for TDs. He was named 2nd team All-SEC and 2nd Team All-American. During his last two seasons, his production wasn't as good as 2010, but it was still excellent. He had 48 tackles each season and intercepted 4 more passes. He finished his career with 159 tackles, 7 tackles for loss, 15 PBUs, and 9 interceptions. He played out of position at times due to depth reasons, but he was a lone bright spot during some very rough times in Knoxville. Waggner was undrafted in 2013, but attended mini-camp with the Cardinals.
Hug was one of Neyland’s “Flaming Sophomores,” along with McEver, Dodd, and Hickman, who played during the 1927-1929 seasons. Hug was an end, that protected the outside of the defense, and was a sure handed receiver on offense. In an era where passing was a second thought, Dodd to Hug was a dangerous combination, helping UT to a 26-1-2 record. His exploits include scoring on a 16 yard pass for the only points in the 1928 win over Vandy. His acrobatic 25 yard catch at the two yard line set up the winning score vs undefeated, and heavily favored UF, in 1928. His blocked punt set up the only score in the 6-0 win vs Bama in 1929 and his fumble recovery set up the decisive points in the victory over Vandy the same year. Big receptions, big stops, and big plays were what Paul Hug was known for. He was named All-South in 1929 and was honorable mention All-South in 1928. He was, unfortunately, injured early in 1930, but his legacy was already written in Knoxville. After college, Hug became an assistant at what is now Rhodes College in Memphis, and a Head Coach at what is now UT Martin.
In 1996, Westmoreland was a reserve linebacker, and still had 29 tackles and a forced fumble. In ‘97, he was primed for a great season, but was injured in the UCLA game, his first career start, and missed the rest of the season and was granted a medical redshirt. In those two games, he made 11 tackles and a forced fumble. In the ‘98 national championship season, Eric moved into the starting lineup at left outside linebacker, finishing second on the team with 79 tackles (60 solos) and 11 stops for losses of 37 yards...Picked off a pass and deflected four others...Caused two fumbles and recovered another. In 1999, he started the first nine games at left outside linebacker...Recorded 51 tackles (36 solos) with nine stops for losses of 21 yards...Caused and recovered two fumbles...Deflected three passes and made 17 big plays. Westmoreland was captain in 2000, and was an All-Southeastern Conference first-team pick by the Associated Press and The Sporting News, and 2nd team All-American…..Started all year at left (strongside) outside linebacker...Led the team with a career-high 83 tackles (56 solos) while also making five sacks for minus 50 yards and 10 stops for losses of 24 yards... Deflected four passes and intercepted another...Caused and recovered a fumble...Credited with 22 big plays and also had an interception. Plain and simple, Westmoreland was a stud! He was a 3rd round pick in the 2001 draft by the Jacksonville Jaguars and played in the NFL through 2004.
Let the debate begin……..Patterson could be rated much higher, but only playing one season hurts, in my opinion.
Patterson came to UT as a JUCO out of Hutchinson(KS) CC. In his 2012 season, Patterson was named All-SEC as an all purpose player. He left after only one season, but is impact is legendary. We should be grateful for that one year. He was a 1st round pick by the Vikings in 2013 and won a Super Bowl with the Patriots. He’s a 4X All-Pro and currently plays for Atlanta.
Here are some of his accolades:
Mark of 1,858 all-purpose yards broke record of Reggie Cobb (1,721), set in 1987
With 28.0 yards per kickoff return, ranks 19th in the NCAA and second in the SEC
Average of 28.0 yards per kickoff return, ranks a UT record for any Vol with at least 20 returns in a season
First player in NCAA to scored a touchdown four ways in a season since 2008 (Rec., Rush, Kick Return, Punt Return)
One of seven players in NCAA to score a touchdown three different ways in 2012
Led Vols with 10 touchdowns (five receiving, three rushing and one each on kickoff and punt return)
Set SEC record for single-season total kick return (kickoff+punt) average per return with 27.6
His 28.0 kickoff yards per return, rank as the second-most in a single-season in SEC history
Returned 24 kickoffs for 671 yards, third-most yards in a season in UT history
In 12 starts, had 46 catches for 778 receiving yards with five touchdowns
Rushed 25 times for 308 yards (12.3 per carry), three TDs
Became the second Vol to have a kickoff and punt return for touchdown in the same season, joining Bobby Gordon, who did it in 1957
Became fourth Vol to have a kickoff and punt return in a career, joining Gordon, Stanley Morgan and Willie Gault
Second Vol all-time to have touchdowns four ways in a career, joining Carl Pickens (1991-93), Patterson did it all in one season
Became fifth Vol with a return touchdown and a TD by rushing or receiving with a 98-yard kickoff return score and an 11-yard touchdown catch at #19 Miss State (10/13); last was Carl Pickens in 1990.