UT alum featured in legends video

By Lesley Hughes
star staff

  A local University of Tennessee legend will be forever etched into stardom as not only a record setting running back but also one of the best football players to be captured on film discussing his years at UT.
  Johnny Mills, owner of Mills Greenhouse on Highway 19-E in Elizabethton, was chosen to participate in a documentary film about the UT Football program with 29 other greats and the four remaining head coaches.
  Gabrielle Productions, with Larry Black as producer, released "Tennessee Football Legends Reunion" earlier this week to retailers, such as Wal-Mart, JCPenney's, Hounddogs, and other local stores.
  The four living head coaches of UT, Bill Battle, Doug Dickey, Johnny Majors and Phil Fulmer, all participated in the film.
  Mills said, "It was a great honor for me to be there and be involved with a lot of names that everyone has heard about Tennessee football for years and years."
  As a wide receiver from 1963-1966, Mills made impressions not only his coaches but also on the record books.
  When asked if he was one of the "great ones," Mills replied, "Well I must be because I am on the video. I asked Coach Dickey 'Why? What I am doing here with all these people?' He said, 'well why not you. You raised the bar when you were here. You raised the bar to another level as far as receptions and yards per game.'
  "I set a lot of records while I was there. I broke most of the records that were set by a man that played wide receiver in 1948. His name was Jim Powell. Coach Dickey explained that the game of football had changed over the years and I was there to raise the bar and set some standards that lasted more than 30 years.
  "As the game has changed other people have broken mine. I think all of mine are broken now, but they lasted for almost 36 years," Mills said shyly.
  It is unclear whether Mills was finished telling how great of a player he was or if he just didn't want to brag, but when the question of what records were broken came up, he replied, "more than you want to list right there. If you had an old UT program there were eight or ten of them in there. I don't recall all of them: most yards in a game, most catches in a game, most total receptions in a season."
  In 2001, Kelley Washington broke Mills' only remaining record of single-game receiving yardage of 225 yards with the new record of 256 yards.
  The video is set in an informal environment with players and coaches talking candidly without the pressure of an interview. Over five hours of video is included in this 4-volume video series. It is available in either DVD or VHS format and features 30 University of Tennessee Volunteer legends -- in one room at the same time -- talking about the great games, the great rivalries, and the great people that made the Tennessee Volunteers one of the best collegiate football programs in the nation. Players and coaches in attendance include Coach Phillip Fulmer, Johnny Majors, Doug Dickey, Bill Battle, Peyton Manning, Tee Martin, Condredge Holloway and many more, according to Gabrielle Productions description of the Tennessee Football Legends Reunion.
  "It is just talking naturally. It is a very interesting, well done video. They sent me a copy of it. It is just intriguing to look at these guys that the average fan has seen -- Fulmer, Dickey, Battle, Majors, Tee Martin, Heath Shuler, Paul Overstreet, Bob Johnson and Johnny Mills. There are just so many names there. I just think people will enjoy seeing these people in street clothes and just talking about their time at the University of Tennessee," Mills raved.