Tennessee’s roster continues to suffer defections as we inch closer to the season with the latest blow coming from a lineman with 12 games of starting experience.

Senior Darel Middleton, who decided to return to Tennessee following the NCAA’s decision to give all players a free season of eligibility, appears to be leaving the program as the East Tennessee native has entered the transfer portal. This news was first reported by Matt Zenitz of On 3 Sports.

Middleton started six games in each of the previous two seasons at Tennessee and appeared in a total of 22 games for the Volunteers after signing with the program out of East Mississippi Community College.

For his career at the FBS level, Middleton registered 43 tackles, two sacks and forced one fumble for the Vols.

Confirming the news, Middleton issued his farewell to Vol Nation on Wednesday:

Here is Middleton’s bio from the official 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).