The Tennessee defense took some hits during fall camp. Seniors Emmit Gooden and Baylen Buchanan were dealt big time injuries, which threw the staff a curveball ahead of the Georgia State game. Those problems got even more complicated by star defensive back Bryce Thompson, who was arrested after allegedly threatening his girlfriend in an argument on campus.
Thompson was suspended indefinitely following the incident. He has not appeared in the first three games of the season. However, Thompson was reinstated last week ahead of the Chattanooga game. He didn’t play on Saturday, but that remains a possibility for this weekend against Florida.
The decision is up to Jeremy Pruitt, who said on Monday that he didn’t know what he was going to do. “I’ve not decided that,” Pruitt told reporters on Monday.
After signing late with Tennessee as an athlete in 2018, Thompson settled into a cornerback role for the Vols. He started from day one — somewhat out of necessity. But he developed quickly, becoming an impact player in Jeremy Pruitt’s defense. He snagged three interceptions in year one, earning freshman All-American honors.
It was clear that Tennessee missed his play-making ability in the first two games of the season. Sophomore Alontae Taylor and freshman Warren Burrell got the start on the outside at cornerback, each taking their lumps early on. Getting Thompson back into the secondary lineup would be an obvious boost.
Pruitt indicated last week that Thompson needed to get into football shape before he could consider playing him.
“He’s not practiced in three weeks, so he needs to practice,” Pruitt said last week. “It’s good for him. It’s hard to play when you haven’t been practicing, right? It’s hard to get in shape. We’ve got to build up.”
Will a couple of weeks of practice be enough build up? We will find out Saturday afternoon in Gainesville.