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AP photo by Wade Payne / Former Tennessee football coach and star player Johnny Majors, shown before the Vols' home game against South Carolina on Oct. 14, 2017, stayed connected with the program even after his tenure in Knoxville ended.

Johnny Majors led the University of Tennessee to one Southeastern Conference football championship as a senior tailback in 1956 and to three more as its head coach in 1985, 1989 and 1990.

Majors died Wednesday morning at the age of 85, but not before leaving a player-mentor legacy for the Volunteers that may never be matched. That mentoring apparently continued well after his days of walking the Neyland Stadium sideline ended in 1992.

"We lost a Tennessee legend in Coach Majors," Vols senior left guard Trey Smith posted Wednesday on Twitter. "Coach was always charismatic and encouraging when I spoke to him. Rest in peace, Coach. It's a sad day."

Tennessee's only two-time winner of the SEC's player of the year award wound up accumulating a 116-62-8 record as the coach of the Vols, with these serving as his five biggest wins (listed in chronological order):

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AP photo by Kirk McCoy / Tennessee football coach Johnny Majors rides victorious on the shoulders of the Vols after they beat Maryland 30-23 in the Florida Citrus Bowl in Orlando on Dec. 18, 1983.

UT 35, Alabama 28 (Oct. 16, 1982): Alan Cockrell threw two lengthy touchdown passes, Fuad Reveiz kicked four field goals and Mike Terry intercepted Walter Lewis in the end zone during the final seconds as the Vols ended 11 years of frustration against Alabama with a stunning of the No. 2 Crimson Tide.

 

UT 38, Auburn 20 (Sept. 28, 1985): Pat Dye's Tigers entered Neyland Stadium ranked No. 1 nationally, but a swarming Vols defense held Auburn senior running back Bo Jackson to 80 yards on 17 carries. The star of the show was Tennessee quarterback Tony Robinson, who had an early 39-yard run and tallied four touchdown passes.

 

UT 35, Miami 7 (Jan. 1, 1986): Hurricanes quarterback Vinny Testaverde called a timeout before the first snap of the Sugar Bowl due to the noise level inside the Superdome and was sacked seven times as Tennessee spotted No. 2 Miami an early 7-0 lead before scoring 35 unanswered points.

 

UT 45, Florida 3 (Oct. 13, 1990): Dale Carter's 90-yard kickoff return for a touchdown to open the second half opened the floodgates to what may have been the most dominating performance of the Majors era. "Boy, that got out of hand fast," Gators first-year coach Steve Spurrier said afterward.

 

UT 35, Notre Dame 34 (Nov. 9, 1991): The Vols blocked Rob Leonard's 27-yard field-goal attempt as time expired to preserve the greatest comeback against the Fighting Irish in South Bend. Tennessee was down 31-7 just before halftime and blocked another field-goal attempt that Floyd Miley ran back 85 yards for a score.

Contact David Paschall at dpaschall@timesfreepress.com or 423-757-6524. Follow him on Twitter @DavidSPaschall.

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