Tennessee’s defense just got another boost looking ahead to the 2021 season as senior defensive lineman Darel Middleton has just announced he will return to Rocky Top for another season.

“Let’s get back on to the top! #UnfinishedBusiness,” Middleton posted on Wednesday.

An East Tennessee native, Middleton signed with the Volunteers during the 2019 recruiting cycle. During his time with the program, he’s appeared in 20 games, making 12 starts during that time, and has 43 tackles, two sacks with 3.5 tackles for loss.

While he was listed as a senior during the 2020 season, Middleton is eligible to return for the Volunteers after the NCAA gave all players the option to take a free season of eligibility this fall. All seniors that make the decision to return will not count against the 85-man scholarship limit next season.

Here is his updated bio from the Tennessee team site:

2020 – SENIOR
Played in nine games and made six starts, totaling 15 tackles, 1.5 tackles for loss, one sack and two pass breakups on the year … Collected three tackles and tied a career high with one sack in win at Vanderbilt (12/12) … Made one tackle against #6 Florida (12/5) … Collected a pair of tackles and half a TFL at Arkansas (11/7) … Started his first game of the season against Kentucky (10/17), making one tackle … Tied a career high with four tackles and set a new career-high with two pass breakups at #3 Georgia (10/10) … Made season debut in win over Missouri (10/3), recording one tackle.

2019 – JUNIOR
Appeared in all 13 contests with six starts … Finished with 28 tackles, two tackles for loss and one sack to go along with a forced fumble and a blocked kick … Started vs. Georgia State, South Carolina, UAB, Kentucky, Missouri and Vanderbilt … Capped his first season with three stops against Indiana in the TaxSlayer Gator Bowl (1/2) … Tallied a pair of stops at Missouri (11/23) … Posted four tackles, tying his career-high and also blocked an extra point attempt vs. Kentucky (11/9) … Forced a fumble in the second quarter against UAB, the first forced fumble of his career, while making one stop versus the Blazers (11/2) … Tied his career-high with four stops at No. 1 Alabama, including a tackle for loss (10/19) … Recorded his first-career sack against Mississippi State while making three stops (10/12) … Set a new career-high with four tackles vs. No. 3 Georgia (10/5) … Had three tackles at Florida (9/21) … Made his first-career start and Tennessee debut in season opener against Georgia State, posting three tackles (8/31).