VFL College Football Hall of Famer Chip Kell Passes Away

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VFL College Football Hall of Famer Chip Kell Passes Away
Photo by UT Sports

Chip Kell, a two-time consensus All-American and three-time All-SEC selection during his playing days at Tennessee (1968-70) passed away on May 25, 2024, in Cohutta, Ga. at the age of 75.

In 2006, Kell became the 21st Vol to be selected to the College Football Hall of Fame.

Kell came to the Vols as part of the 1966-67 recruiting class from Avondale High School in Decatur, Georgia. He played center in 1968 as a sophomore and moved to guard in 1969 without missing a beat. He played on teams that earned an 8-2-1 record in 1968, a 9-2 record and the SEC title in 1969 and an 11-1 mark and final No. 4 ranking in 1970. During his Tennessee varsity career, he and his senior classmates never lost on Shields-Watkins Field, with only a 17-17 tie against Georgia in the 1968 season opener marring the record. Kell and his Vol teammates closed their careers with a rousing 34-13 win over Air Force in the 1971 Sugar Bowl, ending their time at Tennessee on a 10-game win streak, 28-5-1 overall.

Kell was a two-time winner of the Jacobs Memorial Award as the SEC’s best blocker and was the Birmingham Quarterback Club’s SEC most outstanding lineman in his senior season. He also played in the 1971 Senior Bowl. He was named national lineman of the week after the 1970 Kentucky game.

A two-sport star for the Vols, Kell excelled in the shot put for the Tennessee track team. He won both the 1969 Indoor and Outdoor SEC titles and the 1968 Indoor title as well. At his career end, he held the school record in the shot with a mark of 58-7 set in 1968.

“Chip Kell was one of the most powerful athletes that I had ever coached at that time,” said former UT Director of Athletics Doug Dickey, his head coach in 1968 and 1969. “He was way ahead of his time in development by use of weight training, and he became a true leader on the football team.”

After receiving news of his induction to the Hall of Fame Kell stated “I owe everything to God, my family, school and football. It was an honor to play for Coach Dickey and Coach Battle. I owe a great deal to my high school coaches, Lefty Thompson and Calvin Ramsey.”

Kell was drafted by the San Diego Chargers in the 17th round of the 1971 draft but played for two seasons with the CFL Edmonton Eskimos (1971-72).

Funeral arrangements are pending.

Source: UT Sports
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