What would it be like if Tennessee athletes played other sports?
By: John Dunn
The All Vol Call in Show
Feb. 23, 2020
We’ve all done it. We’ve had the thought of, “what if he played football?” or, “what if he played basketball or baseball?”
There have been various athletes that have played for Tennessee that have left us asking, “what if he had played..?”
With our imaginations running wild at the thought of players playing multiple sports, we are left with an imaginary scenario in mind. One in which Peyton Manning can be envisioned on a pitcher’s mound, or even Chris Lofton lining up in the slot at wide receiver — the possibilities are limitless.
Starting with current players, including football players from 2019-2020, we’re going to take a look at what it may look like if some of these guys decided they wanted to play other sports. Included will also be former players throughout history, whether recent, or not-so-recent.
1.) Yves Pons; Forward; Tennessee Men’s basketball — New position: RB/TE/LB Sport: (football)
Pons is known nationally for his incredible athleticism. One look at the French Flyer is enough to intimidate even the most veteran of SEC big men. Pons’ athletic ability is encapsulated by his ability to jump. He currently leads the SEC in blocked shots. With his sheer size, strength and athletic ability, imaginations run wild at the though of Pons on the gridiron. As fast and strong as he is, Pons could be a hard-hitting and speedy running back. He could also provide a huge threat in the receiving game from the tight end position. Anywhere inside the red zone, Pons would be a massive offensive threat, due to his ability to go up and elevate over a defender. His size and speed make him and ideal linebacker as well.
2.) Jauan Jennings; Wide Receiver; Tennessee football — New position: SF/SG Sport: (basketball)
Jennings has long been the “spark plug” of the Tennessee football team. from catching Hail Mary’s against Georgia, to burning Florida defensive backs en route to pay dirt, Jennings worked his way deeply into the hearts of Tennessee fans everywhere throughout his career with the Vols. Jennings played basketball in high school, and even made reference to his basketball career influencing his ability to ‘high-point’ a football. With Tennessee’s men’s basketball team needing leadership, Jennings fits the role perfectly. His background in basketball and athletic ability make him the ideal addition to the basketball team. It’s worth noting that Jennings was the MVP of a state champion Blackmon high school basketball team as a senior. Do you think Jennings would be afraid to attack the rim? Not a chance.
3.) Admiral Schofield; Forward; Tennessee basketball — New position: RB/FB/LB. Sport: (football)
This one is pretty easy to envision. Much like Pons, Schofield is a physical specimen. Although his vertical isn’t as impressive as Pons’, his strength and energy may be double. Schofield was well-known for his ferocious and awe-inspiring dunks, as well as his emotional motor. His passion and skill were evident in his play. With his speed, size and strength, Schofield would have been IDEAL for football. From running back to linebacker, it’s fun to think about “the Admiral” running through the T with coach Pruitt.
4.) Chris Lofton; SG; Tennessee Men’s basketball — New position: WR/DB. Sport: (football)
Lofton is known for his three-point shooting ability. As the SEC’s all-time leader in three point field goals made, his range made him a nightmarish match up for any opposing defense, and his ability to make it look easy added an element of “we can’t stop him anyway”. Very few know that Lofton was actually a stand-out wise receiver and defensive back in high school in Kentucky. He was named first-team all-state and played on a state runner-up team. At 6’2” 195, Lofton would be considered a big-ish wide receiver. Although he will go down as one of the greatest basketball players in Tennessee history, it’s fun to think about Chris Lofton and Eric Berry in the same secondary.
5.) Jason Witten; TE; Tennessee football — New position: Forward. Sport: (basketball)
Arguably one of the greatest tight ends in history, Witten made quite a name for himself on the football field while playing for the Vols. At 6’6” Witten possesses the size necessary to play basketball. Sheer strength, size and intellect would have allowed him to be productive on the court. We’re glad he stayed at TE, but how cool would it have been to see Jason Witten flushing down a ferocious dunk?!
6.) Uros Plavsic; Center; Tennessee Men’s basketball — New position: WR. Sport: (football)
Halfway through the season, the NCAA finally decided to clear Tennessee seven-footer, Uros Plavsic. Plavsic hasn’t seen much time on the hardwood due to his recent addition to the team and the acclimation process taking a little longer than expected. At seven-feet tall, Plavsic’s size is something that the Vols need immediately to help establish a more dominant inside presence. His size would also make him a LETHAL presence in the end zone. At seven feet tall, he could stand flat-footed in the back on the end zone and catch touchdowns all day long. When’s the last time you saw a DB that was big enough to defend a seven-footer? Never — that’s when. Plavsic would OBVIOUSLY have to get much stronger and familiar with the game, but it’s a fun thought, right?
7.) Jimmy Holiday; QB (dual); Tennessee football — New position: Sprinter(?) Sport: (track)
Holiday comes in with the 2020 recruiting class as a three-star dual threat quarterback. He is affectionately referred to as “Jimmy the Jet”, thanks to his blistering 4.31 40-yard dash time. With that type of speed, you have to believe that “Jimmy the Jet” could turn some heads on the track.
8.) Elijah Simmons; OL/DL; Tennessee football — New position: Forward. Sport: (basketball)
Okay — hear me out. Simmons stands at only 6’2” and weighs just over 340 pounds — not typical for a forward in division-I basketball. However, there’s no way that VolNation has forgotten about his ability to rise off the floor. Prior to his arrival at Tennessee, Simmons posted a video that went viral of him dunking a basketball. He loves the game of basketball, and actually has a silky jumper as well. While he is clearly better suited for football, it’s wild to think about the big man on the hardwood.
9.) Eric Berry; Safety; Tennessee football — New position: CF. Sport: (baseball)
Eric Berry was arguably one of the best safeties in SEC history. A top-five draft pick in 2010, Berry has made quite a name for himself in the NFL after a career of interceptions and pulverizing hits for the Vols. The safety position is comparable to the position of center field in baseball for the fact that you have the entire team in front of you, in your line-of-sight, throughout the game. As a safety, you’re not supposed to let anything by you. It’s the same in center field. With Berry’s ability to track a football, you have to believe he would have been an incredible center fielder.
10.) Peyton Manning; Quarterback; Tennessee football — New position: P. Sport: (baseball)
Again — hear me out. We all know that Manning had/has an INCREDIBLE arm. He could have probably flat-footed a football 75+ yards in his hay day. At 6’5” with an arm like a Howitzer, Manning would have been ideal on the mound. A little bit of practice and learning, he probably could have thrown a curve that would have been out of this world. However, we are very thankful that he chose to stay at quarterback.
Although all of these scenarios are merely speculative in nature, it’s fun to think about athletes dawning a jersey in a different sport. But, the only thing that matters is, the jersey would have still been orange with “Tennessee” written on it.
*Photos provided by: UT sports, The Athletic, sportsonearth.com, Pinterest and Newsweek.