Big John Henderson Will Be Vols "Legend" At Sunday Opener

First Visit to Neyland Stadium Since His Final Game In 2001

Friday, August 29, 2014 - by Special to Chattanoogan.com

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. – From 1999-2001, John Henderson cast a long shadow on the defensive line for Tennessee. Sunday, the man and the shadow return to Neyland Stadium for the first time since his final run through the “T”.

Henderson will be honored before the Tennessee-Utah State game as the Legend of the Game, celebrating a decorated career at UT that saw the Nashville native pick up a long list of awards, including two All-American nods and multiple SEC honors.

He was the 2000 Outland Trophy winner from a season that saw him record 71 tackles and an eye-popping 12 sacks.

In his Tennessee career, Henderson racked up 165 tackles and 20.5 sacks. He was a semifinalist for the Lombardi Award as a senior, despite missing two games with injuries.

Henderson had to sit out his freshman season at UT in 1998 under the old partial qualifier rules, but used the year away from competition to grind away in practice, ready to make a contribution in 1999. He took over starting duties at defensive tackle in the fifth game of his sophomore season for an injured Billy Ratliff and never looked back. After making that initial start against Georgia in Neyland Stadium, Henderson would start every game he participated in for the remainder of his career.

The long shadow cast on opponents by Henderson led to one of the first interactive player features on the then-new video board at Neyland Stadium. After a sack or big play by Henderson, a few bars from the classic Jimmy Dean song "Big Bad John" would play with an animation of Henderson.

Henderson was a first round NFL Draft pick in 2002, going to the Jacksonville Jaguars with the ninth overall selection. He set his career high for sacks in his first season in Jacksonville with 6.5 to go with 53 tackles and a pair of fumble recoveries. In an NFL career that would span 10 seasons with the Jaguars and Oakland Raiders, Henderson recorded 489 tackles and 29 sacks. He was named to the Pro Bowl in 2004 and 2006.

Henderson retired from football following the 2011 season and will return to Neyland Stadium for the first time since he celebrated his Senior Day with a 38-0 shutout of Vanderbilt in 2001. 

(E-mail Larry Fleming at larryfleming44@gmail.com and follow him on Twitter @larryfleming44)

 


UTC's Cotter Earns All-Conference, Two Mocs Named To All-Freshman Team At SoCon Finals

Complete Results     BIRMINGHAM, Ala. --- In her final Southern Conference Championship of her career, senior Amanda Cotter (Bristol, Conn.) earned all-conference honors in the women’s 1500 meter run on the final day at the Samford Track and Soccer Stadium.   “I thought she had it won,” Chattanooga head coach Bill Gautier said.  “She ran a great ... (click for more)

Lookies Lose Second Straight Sunday At Smokies, 5-2

A four-run fifth inning broke a deadlocked 1-1 game and the Smokies went on to a 5-2 win over the Lookouts Sunday afternoon at Smokies Stadium. Inning-by-inning game  r ecap . Smokies starting pitcher Frank Batista tossed seven solid innings of one-run ball, while four consecutive run-scoring singles from right fielder Almora Almora Jr., designated hitter Kyle Schwarber, ... (click for more)

Woman Injured, Man Dead After Shooting Outside Collegedale Walmart

One man is dead and a woman injured after a shooting near the Collegedale Walmart on Sunday afternoon. Collegedale Police were dispatched at 2:22 p.m. to reports of a person shot at 5910 Reagan Lane. Police arrived on the scene at 2:23 p.m. and found a deceased male, and a female suffering gunshot wounds to her lower extremities. The female victim was transported to a ... (click for more)

Anonymous Facebook Posters Pose Possibility Of Signal Schools Separating From Hamilton County School System

"Should Signal Mountain Schools separate from the Hamilton County School System?"   That’s the question posted on a Facebook page titled, simply, Signal Mountain Independent School District.   The creators of the page do not identify themselves. “(W)e certainly don’t want our kids dragged into the issue or targeted for special treatment by any ... (click for more)

The Heart Of A Teacher Makes A Difference - And Response (2)

In less than four weeks, I expect to be one of 216 graduating seniors from East Hamilton School. One could say all possible variables help a student rise to the highest levels in school; but a student is more than his environment or genetic code. He is a mixture of his own propensity and dedication to academics, coupled with a systemic team of mentors who give their all as a student’s ... (click for more)

Roy Exum: The P.S. To A Sad Story

Back in the days when we were determined that the Chattanooga News-Free Press would have the best sports section in the country, I was traveling a whole lot. For example, back then I would be leaving today or tomorrow for Saturday’s Kentucky Derby, this after hardly recovering from a week spent at The Masters. And, as it happens with those who are constantly in search for tomorrow’s ... (click for more)