Best of the decade: FBs

This is the third in a series of articles ranking Tennessee's best players of the decade 2000-2009. Today's topic: Fullbacks.

WILL BARTHOLOMEW: A starter in 2000 and 2001, this 6-0, 245-pounder GOT IT. He understood that the No. 1 priority of a Vol fullback is blocking. His work as the lead blocker helped Travis Henry rush for 1,314 yards in 2000 and Travis Stephens rush for a school-record 1,464 yards in 2001. On those rare occasions when he wasn't opening holes for the tailback, Bartholomew managed to rush 20 times for 58 yards and catch 25 passes for another 196 yards. The respect his teammates had for him is reflected in his selection as a captain in '01.

TROY FLEMING: A record-setting tailback in high school, Fleming switched to fullback at UT but never fully embraced the move. The 6-1, 235-pounder started in 2002 and 2003 but did not block with the passion or competence of Bartholomew. He made the most of his touches - gaining 342 yards on 84 rushes and another 492 yards on 73 receptions - but could've been a sensational fullback if he'd approached his blocking duties with better attitude and enthusiasm.

KEVIN COOPER: With one year of eligibility left, Cooper has had the misfortune of playing during an era in which Tennessee has been de-emphasizing the fullback position. The 6-0, 242-pounder started 10 games in 2008, nine in 2009 and projects to start in 2010 on those occasions when the Vols utilize a fullback. An energetic blocker, he played a key role in Montario Hardesty rushing for 1,345 yards last fall. To date, Cooper's career numbers include 13 rushing yards on six carries and 152 receiving yards on 19 catches.

CORY ANDERSON: If you could order a fullback on-line, this guy would be the physical prototype. Truly imposing at 6-2 and 260 pounds, the homegrown Knoxville product seemingly had the tools to be an All-Pro. Something was missing, however. Anderson started in 2004 and 2005 but never developed the consistency needed to live up to his mind-boggling potential. He finished his career with 74 yards on 18 rushes and 315 yards on 34 receptions.

DAVID HOLBERT: One of the saddest stories in recent Vol history, Holbert paid his dues as a three-year backup, then saw devastating knee injuries wipe out his 2007 and 2008 seasons. The 6-1, 250-pound Nashville native started just one game and never carried the ball from scrimmage. He caught seven passes for 66 yards, however, and did a fine job as the Vols' chief backup in 2004, 2005 and 2006.

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