BLEEDING ORANGE: A look at some of Tennessee's best legacy players
By: Dallas Bowlin
Senior Staff Writer
The All Vol Call in Show
The history of Tennessee Football is truly deep and rich. For their 118 seasons, many great players have stepped in between the lines of Shields-Watkins Field, from Peyton Manning to Reggie White. However, one subject that often gets overlooked is the profound history Tennessee has with its legacy players/families. To underscore this, here are some notable players who have passed down the proverbial torch to their families.
The Berrys: James, Eric, Evan, Elliot
James Berry- Weeks after his official visit to Tennessee, James Berry called then Head Coach Johnny Majors to tell him he wanted to be a Vol. From 1978-1981 James rushed for 1,721 yards and 18 touchdowns on 419 attempts. Berry was a three-year starter, lettered for four years, and was the 1981 team captain.
Eric Berry - Eric Berry, the son of James Berry, took over a defensive back position from fifth-year senior Jarod Parrish after an impressive showing in his first game against California in 2007. Berry would make many big plays en route to being awarded the SEC Defensive Freshman of the Year. For his career at Tennessee Eric would many honors, including the 2009 Sports Illustrated All-Decade Team.
Evan Berry - Evan Berry, the son of James Berry, and the younger brother of Eric, played at Tennessee during the 2014-2017 seasons. Evan ranked second in kick-off return average nationally during his freshman campaign with 29.5 yards. Much like his older brother, Evan also earned many honors during his career, including the 2015 Sports Illustrated First Team All-American.
Elliot Berry - The son of James, and twin brother of Evan, Elliot Berry was one of a Tennessee school record 21 true freshmen to debut against Utah State (8/31). Recorded his first career fumble recovery in the third quarter against Kentucky, setting up a field goal to put the Vols up 23-21.
The Kellys: Todd Kelly Sr, Todd Kelly Jr
Todd Kelly Sr. - Todd Kelly Sr. initially committed to the South Carolina Gamecocks, however, he switched his commitment to Tennessee following the tragic death of Gamecock Head Coach Joe Morrison. Kelly’s first career start came against Southwest Louisiana (1992) where he registered three tackles and one sack. Todd Kelly Sr is currently fifth on Tennessee’s all-time,
only trailing Jonathan Brown, Leonard Little, Reggie White, and Derek Barnett.
Todd Kelly Jr. - Son of Todd Kelly Sr, Kelly Jr made his first career start at strong safety vs Arkansas State (9/6/14). Kelly Jr’s three interceptions are the most by a Vols true freshman since Eric Berry’s five in 2007. Sadly, Kelly announced his retirement from football in 2019 due to damage done to his knee over the years.
Dale Carter / Nigel Warrior:
Dale Carter - Dale Carter was a shutdown corner for the Vols throughout 1990-1991. He had a monster of a game in the Sugar Bowl against Virginia, grabbing two interceptions, breaking up four passes, and totaling 10 tackles. Carter was named 1991 First Team All-American.
Nigel Warrior - A three-year starter at safety for Tennessee, and the son of Dale Carter, Warrior finished his career with 239 tackles, and five interceptions over 49 career games. His best season was arguably his senior campaign, accumulating All-SEC First Team honors, aggregating 70 tackles, and tying for the SEC lead in the regular season with four interceptions.
The Mays’: Kevin, Cade, Cooper:
Kevin Mays - Kevin Mays played for the Vols through the 1990-1994 seasons, and played multiple positions while at Tennessee, starting as a defensive lineman before finding his place at offensive guard. As a senior, Mays was named team captain and was the only Vol to earn first-team SEC honors that season.
Cade Mays - The son of Kevin Mays, Cade started his career at Georgia, before transferring to Tennessee for his junior season. Cade showed the ability to play all over the offensive line, and started in all 17 games he played in. Earned the honors of 2021 All-SEC Second team from both the AP and coaches and currently plays guard for the Carolina Panthers.
Cooper Mays - The son of Kevin, and younger brother of Cade, Cooper is currently playing on the Vols' offensive line, saw action for 480 snaps during his sophomore season, and did not allow a sack during his final five games. Against Pittsburgh this season he started at center and played all 79 snaps.
James Warren / Jacob Warren:
James Warren - Played for Tennessee in the early 1990s, earning letters as an offensive tackle for the Vols in 1992 and 1993.
Jacob Warren - Son of James Warren, Jacob is currently playing tight end for the Vols. Had his best year as a junior in 2021, reeling in a career-best 18 catches for 179 yards and three touchdowns on the season. Started at tight end against the road win against Pittsburgh and pulled in a 24-yard catch that sat up Tennessee’s first touchdown of the game.
Bill Bates / Dillon Bates
Bill Bates - Played at Tennessee from 1979 through 1982, as a four-year starter, playing his first two years at free safety, and last two at strong safety. As a senior for the Vols, Bates accumulated 86 tackles, two tackles for loss, and three interceptions.
Dillon Bates - Son of Bill Bates, Dillon played linebacker for five seasons at Tennessee. Recovered a fumble in the win over Florida in 2016, recovering a fumble from Florida's Antonio Callaway at the Gators two-yard line on a punt return in the first quarter.