The Tennessee Volunteers quarterback position his largely been defined by one man, a true NFL legend in every way, Peyton Manning. After him, the list of NFL starting signal callers to come out of this program are slim.
Only three other Volunteers quarterbacks started 15-plus NFL games. Manning is the consensus top QB to come out of Tennessee, but who else makes the list?
3. George Cafego (1940-45)
During a different era of the sport entirely, George Cafego played more of a quarterback/tailback hybrid. The former Tennessee product was drafted first overall, and was a Jack of all trades in the NFL, also specializing as a return-man. World War II shortened Cafego's athletic career, but he still gets the nod over Heath Shuler (third Volunteer on the NFL passing yardage list), who was known as one of the greatest NFL quarterback busts in the history of the league. Cafego passed away in 1998.
2. Pat Ryan (1978-91)
More of a backup during his time, Pat Ryan turned an 11th round selection on draft day into a respectable NFL career. He had an 11-8 record as a starter and was a factor in the most games in 1984, for the New York Jets (the franchise he spent the majority of his NFL tenure with). Ryan's claim to fame was a playoff win with the Jets after the '86 season. He has since worked for the Tennessee Titans and Tennessee Volunteers as a radio analyst, and is second in total passing yardage to Peyton.
1. Peyton Manning (1998-2015)
The future Hall of Fame quarterback and number one overall pick out of Tennessee has a long list of accomplishments in the NFL. His number has been retired by the Indianapolis Colts, and honored with the Denver Broncos. He is a two-time Super Bowl Champion with two different franchises, Super Bowl MVP, five-time regular season MVP, seven-time First Team All-Pro player, Walter Payton NFL Man of the Year, NFL Comeback Player of the Year, three-time passer rating leader, member of the NFL 2000's All-Decade Team and member of the NFL 100th Anniversary All-Time Team (among others). Manning threw for almost 72,000 yards, and 539 touchdowns. His career passer rating was a 96.5.
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