KNOXVILLE — Oneida’s Kolby Morgan made local football history on Saturday, when he got the nod as Tennessee’s punter in its game against Tennessee Tech.
Morgan, a freshman walk-on who graduated from Oneida High School in May, had a 35-yard punt in the first quarter, and followed that up with a 55-yard, booming punt in the second quarter. He was punting in place of senior Paxton Brooks.
While Morgan is certainly not the first player from Scott County to suit up for Tennessee, he is the first to see meaningful playing time for the Vols.
Before Morgan, Dylan West was the most recent local player to play for the Vols. West, like Morgan, is an Oneida graduate who walked on at Tennessee. He was later awarded a scholarship by then-coach Butch Jones.
There have been other local players who have suited up for Tennessee, as well. In fact, 8th Judicial District Public Defender Leif Jeffers played for the Vols.
But Morgan, who had almost gotten an opportunity to punt during UT’s loss to Pittsburgh a week earlier, came on in place of the dinged-up Brooks in the first quarter, making local history in the process.
Tennessee started the game by picking up one first down and then being forced to punt on its opening possession. Morgan came on to punt the ball 35 yards to Tennessee Tech’s 30-yard-line. There was no return.
Morgan’s second punt, which came in the second quarter with the Vols leading 21-0, was a spectacular effort. It was a 55-yard punt to Tennessee Tech’s 6-yard-line, with no return.
As if that wasn’t enough, Morgan isn’t the only local player to see action in Saturday’s game against the Golden Eagles.
Hunter Barnhart, Morgan’s fellow teammate at Oneida, is the starting tight end for Tennessee Tech.
The Barnhart family moved to Oneida when Billy Barnhart was an assistant coach on Tony Lambert’s staff. Both Hunter Barnhart and his older brother, Will, played for the Indians. Hunter Barnhart graduated in 2019 and is in his second season at Tennessee Tech. He had seven catches for 72 yards last season.
Barnhart was the first local player from an opposing team to play inside Neyland Stadium since Scott High graduate Jake Buttram, who was on the roster for Tennessee Tech when the Golden Eagles faced the Vols in 2017.
When the Tennessee Tech offense took the field for the first time, Barnhart became the first local player to see action in an opposing uniform at Neyland Stadium since 2013, when brothers Jared and Jake Sexton — both Scott High graduates — played for Austin Peay.
Barnhart also became the first local player to start a game at Neyland Stadium since 2013, when Jake Sexton was the starting quarterback for the Governors.