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Two veterans announce return to Tennessee

Huge gets.

UTSA v Tennessee Photo by Eakin Howard/Getty Images

Big news on Friday — Tennessee will get defensive tackle Omari Thomas AND center Cooper Mays back for another year. Both clear leaders on each side of the ball, the Volunteers obviously get a big boost here for 2024.

Thomas announced his decision on his X account.

Mays followed shortly.

Thomas weighed out a potential NFL decision after a big junio season which saw him put up 31 tackles and 4.5 tackles for loss. The 6-4, 320 pound defensive lineman has put together four full seasons in Knoxville, but will get to return for one more due to his COVID year of eligibility.

Mays has been the anchor of the offensive line since Josh Heupel arrived at Tennessee, taking the starting center job and never looking back. He missed the first few games of the season in 2023 after undergoing a minor procedure in camp, but returned to start the last eight games for the Volunteers down the stretch.

With the return of Mays, Tennessee now brings back at least three starters back on the offensive line for the 2024 season. Javontez Spraggins, who did not participate in Senior Day festivities, could make that four. That’s a nice little boost for Nico Iamaleava, who will be walking into the starting quarterback role next season.