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Tennessee Athletics photo by Andrew Ferguson / Tennessee junior cornerback Bryce Thompson returns an interception 18 yards for a touchdown during the 42-17 win at Vanderbilt on Dec. 12.

Junior cornerback Bryce Thompson, the first player in Tennessee football history to wear the No. 0 jersey, has zero time left with the Volunteers.

Thompson announced Tuesday that he is forgoing his remaining eligibility in Knoxville and will focus on the 2021 NFL draft. The 5-foot-11, 190-pounder from Irmo, South Carolina, made 28 starts in his three college seasons.

"Words can't describe how honored I am to fulfill my lifelong dream, and I am ready for the challenge," Thompson posted on social media. "I will forever be a Volunteer and am honored to have been a part of this team."

Thompson wasn't the only Tennessee player making news Tuesday, as senior running back Ty Chandler entered the transfer portal and will use the NCAA's extra year of eligibility due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic somewhere else. A trio of former Vols seniors — quarterback Jarrett Guarantano, receiver Brandon Johnson and outside linebacker Deandre Johnson — recently announced they would use the extra season of eligibility at another locale, with Deandre Johnson having already revealed Miami as his choice.

Chandler, a 5-11, 205-pounder from Nashville's Montgomery Bell Academy, rushed for 2,046 yards in his four-year career with the Vols and led the team with 630 yards as a sophomore and 655 as a junior. The top-100 national signee in 2017 carried 100 times for 456 yards this past season, when sophomore Eric Gray surpassed him as Tennessee's primary rushing threat.

Thompson amassed 36 tackles, two interceptions, one forced fumble and one fumble recovery this past season. He actually started at safety in the 31-27 opening win at South Carolina, where he tallied a career-high eight tackles, but his most memorable play was an 18-yard interception return for a touchdown during the second quarter of the 42-17 win at Vanderbilt on Dec. 12.

The Commodores led 10-7 before Thompson abruptly swayed the momentum.

A four-star signee in Jeremy Pruitt's inaugural 2018 class, Thompson made 10 starts as a freshman and collected a team-high three interceptions. He would finish his first year in Knoxville as the highest-graded true freshman cornerback nationally, according to Pro Football Focus.

Thompson's sophomore season contained three first-half interceptions during a 30-7 win over UAB, which matched a program record for a single game. He did not allow a touchdown that year in 325 coverage snaps.

For his career, Thompson racked up 99 tackles, 19 passes defended, eight tackles for loss and eight interceptions.

WalterFootball.com lists Thompson as the No. 39 cornerback in the 2021 draft with the accompanying comment, "Thompson has not stood out this year."

 

Daniels back at UGA

Georgia junior quarterback JT Daniels, who transferred last spring from Southern California and guided the Bulldogs to victories in his four starts, announced Tuesday afternoon via social media that he was returning to Athens.

"Found my new home. Now we've got unfinished business," Daniels posted. "Go Dawgs 2021."

Junior running back James Cook and senior defensive tackle Devonte Wyatt also announced they would be returning to the Bulldogs. Cook missed last Friday's 24-21 victory over Cincinnati in the Chick-fil-A Peach Bowl due to the death of his father.

Announcing their exits from Georgia were junior center Trey Hill, senior defensive end Malik Herring and redshirt junior receiver Matt Landers. Hill and Herring are making themselves eligible for the NFL draft, while Landers entered the NCAA transfer portal.

Contact David Paschall at dpaschall@timesfreepress.com or 423-757-6524.

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