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UT retires Johnny Major’s football number

Posted on Thursday, September 20, 2012 at 12:40 pm

Lynchburg native Johnny Majors waves from the field. UT officials retired his football number last Saturday.

Knoxville – The University of Tennessee retired the No. 45 jersey of Lynchburg native Johnny Majors before the Tennessee-Florida game on Saturday evening based on his accomplishments as a player. Majors’ No. 45 is the eighth jersey all-time to be honored by the Vols with retirement.

Other honorees include 16 – Peyton Manning, 32 – Bill Nowling, 49 – Rudy Klarer, 61 – Willis Tucker, 62 – Clyde Fuson, 91 – Doug Atkins and 92 – Reggie White.

According to the UT’s press release for the event, Majors is a 1987 inductee of the National Football Foundation and College Football Hall of Fame. He played for the Volunteers from 1954-1956 and earned both SEC Player of the Year honors and All-SEC selection at tailback twice, in 1955 and 1956. A unanimous All-American in 1956, he finished second in the Heisman Trophy balloting after leading the Vols to a 10-1 record, an appearance in the Sugar Bowl, and a final national ranking of No. 2.

A native of Lynchburg, Tennessee and a graduate of Huntland High School, Majors finished his Tennessee career with 1,622 yards rushing and 15 touchdowns on 387 attempts while also completing 54.1 percent of his passes (80 for 148) for 1,135 yards and 11 touchdowns. He rushed for 549 yards and seven touchdowns on 108 carries in 1956.
Tennessee was 20-10-1 during his time as a Vol. Majors returned 36 punts for a 12.2 average and one touchdown in his career along with 15 kickoff returns for a 22.9 average. Majors also intercepted two passes at Tennessee and punted 83 times for a 39.1-yard average.

He was named to the Quarter-Century All-SEC team (1950-74) at running back, along with LSU’s Billy Cannon and Alabama’s Johnny Musso. When his Tennessee career ended, he ranked in the top 10 in total offense (2,757) and rushing (1,622) and was the single-season record holder for completion percentage (61.0% in 1956).
Majors said that Saturday was one of the greatest days of his life and he was truly moved by the retirement of his No. 45 after his long relationship with Tennessee as an All-American player in the 1950s and later its head coach from 1977-92.

“I really haven’t had time to assess how to compare it,” Majors said. “I had an inkling, a good idea that it would occur, but it had not been officially secured until this morning. Dave Hart called me about 9:30 and I was very excited. I’ve been pretty much on a high and I haven’t been smoking anything or drinking anything. But I’ve seriously been pretty much on a high these last few days when I thought there was a chance this would happen.”

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