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Team Speed Kills’ College Football Facts Countdown Series: Day 89

Tennessee legend Peyton Manning ranks third in SEC history with 89 touchdown passes.

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NCAA Football: Tennessee at Alabama
Former Tennessee quarterback Peyton Manning alongside current head coach Butch Jones back in 2015.
John David Mercer-USA TODAY Sports

College football season is well within reach!

With less than 100 days until kickoff, we here at Team Speed Kills are introducing a brand-new, quotidian countdown series to help you prepare for the first slate of college football action on August 26th.

In this series, we will post a daily SEC-related fact and/or story that corresponds to the number of the day in the countdown. Hopefully, you’ll find this series enlightening and entertaining. If you do, click that ‘share’ button we all know and love. If you do not, quit lying to yourself.

Is Peyton Manning the greatest quarterback in football history? Well, that’s a debatable point, although he is certainly among the all-time greats. Manning played 17 years in the National Football League, winning two Super Bowls—appearing in four—and rewriting the league’s record books.

However, before Manning went on to the NFL, he was a four-year star at Tennessee. Destined to follow in his father’s footsteps at Ole Miss, Manning shocked everyone by announcing he’d be attending Tennessee. And while he never did win a national championship, Manning was certainly quite successful with the Volunteers.

During his four years in Knoxville, Manning became UT’s all-time leader in passing yards and is third in conference history with 89 career touchdown passes. The two players ahead of Manning: Aaron Murray and Danny Wuerffel. While with the Vols, Manning also set the SEC record for most wins by a starting quarterback with 39.

When he enrolled at Tennessee in 1994, Manning was the team’s third-string quarterback. The team’s starter was Todd Helton, who’d go on to enjoy a terrific career in Major League Baseball with the Colorado Rockies. It was in the team’s fourth game of the 1994 season when Helton went down, Manning came in and took over. He would remain the Vols’ starting quarterback from that point on.

When many look back at Manning’s college career, most point out his failure to lead the Volunteers to a national championship. Making matters worse, the year after Manning left, Tennessee—led by Tee Martin—would win the national championship.

While Manning not winning a national title was certainly disappointing for him, his college career was outstanding and culminated with him entering the College Football Hall of Fame earlier this year. And it was only fitting Manning would enter the Hall of Fame alongside his college nemesis, former Florida coach Steve Spurrier.

Unfortunately for Tennessee, the Vols are still trying to find a suitable replacement for Manning.