SEC Football history: 50 best players of all time

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Peyton Manning, Tennessee Volunteers
Peyton Manning, Tennessee football (Photo By Streeter Lecka/Getty Images) /

839. . QB. Volunteers . Peyton Manning. 7. player

7. Best SEC football players of all time: Peyton Manning, Tennessee football

When it comes to quarterbacks, Peyton Manning is widely regarded as one of the best in the history of not only college football, but also the NFL. An offspring of an SEC legend in Archie Manning, and the brother of another legend in Eli Manning, Peyton is the highest-ranked Manning on our list, and for good reason.

A four-year starter for the Tennessee Volunteers, Manning spurned his father’s alma mater, Ole Miss, a move that certainly brought some harsh words for Peyton and the family in general. After finally getting on the field for the Volunteers, Peyton never looked back and would finish his career as the fourth player in SEC history to throw for over 11,000 yards.

Interestingly enough, Manning took over for a baseball legend in Todd Helton, who was injured during Manning’s freshman year, opening the door for his own legend to begin. After three solid seasons for the Volunteers, Manning was expected to be the No. 1 overall pick in the 1997 NFL Draft, but instead decided to return for another go-around, and possibly to win a national title and a Heisman Trophy.

Manning fell short of those goals, but it does not diminish what he did during his time on campus at Tennessee. He is an all-time great, had his No. 16 retired by the school, and finished his career by winning the Maxwell Award, the Walter Camp, and being named a consensus All-American. He went 39-6 as the starter for the Vols, threw 89 touchdowns, and would go on to set 42 NCAA, SEC, or Tennessee records.