For some, that might be up for debate. But not from me. Al Wilson was something special, and was one of the big reasons why that was a national championship year. Without him? That would have been a hole not easily filled. It would have probably been another year we came close.
Al was great...no doubt about it...but the Vols have had stellar linebackers for years and years...A lot of people think Al walked onto the campus and was the man from day one...and that's just not the way it was...To me...one of the most impressive things about Al is how he matured into the role as an outstanding backer and leader....
I liked when he and Jamal Lewis got into a bench press duel one summer and were pushing up ridiculous amounts that few, if any, of the OL could even match, when a very nervous S&C coach (Johnny Long maybe?) stopped them before they shredded a pectoral.
I watched most if not all of those mentioned here play (yep, my spring chicken days are forever lost inside a neck-deep snowdrift) and all were top-notch. It's hard not to give a shout-out to Dale Jones in this discussion. He was a terrific LB (just ask Vinnie Testaverde) who earned numerous All-American honors and was a dynamic team leader. While I'm at it, Jerod Mayo also deserves a nod. He was a first-round draft pick after only 3 years on the Hill. If I was forced to choose though, it's hard not to lean towards Al Wilson as arguably the best of the bunch when you combine his abilities both as a player and a leader.