KNOXVILLE – For the second season in a row, five Tennessee football players have been officially invited to the NFL Combine held from February 22-25, 2014 in Indianapolis, Ind. at Lucas Oil Stadium.
Seniors Zach Fulton, Ja’Wuan James, Dan McCullers and James Stone and junior Antonio Richardson have each received an invitation to the prestigious event.
Last season, Tyler Bray, Justin Hunter, Cordarrelle Patterson, Mychal Rivera, and Dallas Thomas were invited to the event.
Hunter, Patterson, Rivera and Thomas were selected in the 2013 NFL Draft and all five players were on NFL Rosters this season.
Over 300 of the top football players in the country, including Tennessee's five athletes, were invited to take part in the combine in front of top executives, coaching staffs, player personnel departments and medical personnel from all 32 NFL teams who will be on hand to evaluate the nation's top college football players eligible for the upcoming NFL Draft.
The intense, four-day job interview is an exciting time for the athletes and a vital step in achieving their dreams of playing in the NFL.
The Vols four offensive linemen invited to the combine, Fulton, James, Richardson and Stone blocked for 2,261 yards this season, the most for Tennessee since 2004 and the second-most since 1999.
Over the course of the season, the Vols offensive line helped UT to five 200-yard rushing games and a 1,000-yard rusher in Rajion Neal, the first 1,000 yard rusher since Poole in 2010.
Fulton started all 12 games at right guard in 2013 and started 40 of his final 43 career games at the position.
James started all 49 games of his college career, all at right tackle, including all 12 in his senior season of 2013. With 49 starts, the Suwanee, Ga., native set the record for career starts by an offensive lineman in Tennessee history, passing Jeff Smith (48). His 49 games played, stands second to former teammate Dallas Thomas (50) for most games played on the offensive line at Tennessee.
The 6-6, 318-pound James was an All-SEC second-team selection by the Associated Press in 2013. He was also a member of the preseason Outland Trophy Watch List. James earned SEC Offensive Lineman of the Week on Dec. 2 following his college finale at Kentucky, when he set the school record for consecutive start by a Vols offensive lineman.
Richardson was named a CBSSports.com Third Team All-American after a terrific junior season for the Vols. The Nashville native was also named to the Coaches All-SEC second team, AP All-SEC second team, Athlon Sports All-SEC second team and College Sports Madness All-SEC second team following the 2013 season.
Richardson played and started in each of the Vols 12 games this season at left tackle, he started the last 24 games of his career at left tackle for Tennessee.
Stone started all 12 games - 11 at center and one at left guard - in 2013 and started 39 total for his Tennessee career.
The massive McCullers, who stands 6-8, 351, posted 72 tackles in his two seasons with the Vols after transferring in from Georgia Military College. McCullers was named to the preseason watch lists for the Outland, Bednarik and Nagurski Trophies in 2013. He was also a 2013 preseason All-SEC second-team selection.
As a senior, McCullers made 33 tackles including 4.5 tackles for a loss in starting all 12 games at nose tackle. McCullers was second on the team quarterback hurries with four and blocked one kick -- the second block of his career. He had six tackles including a career-high 2.5 tackles for loss in the Vols' upset win over South Carolina.
A native of Raleigh, N.C., McCullers played his first two college seasons at Georgia Military College and made 64 total tackles.
(E-mail Larry Fleming at email@example.com)