For 2020, the NCAA is allowing the season to not count against eligibility. Student-athletes will enter fall 2021 with the same eligibility status as their fall 2020 season. One senior Tennessee defender shared Tuesday that he has already to take advantage of an extra year of eligibility and return in 2021.

Darel Middleton says he’ll play for the Volunteers in both 2020 and ’21. He joined Jeremy Pruitt’s UT program in 2019 as a JUCO transfer from East Mississippi Community College.

According to GoVols247, Middleton explained his decision in a series of tweets which have since been deleted:

“Knowing I have guys behind me like (Henry To’o To’o) & (Quavaris) Crouch makes me play with a edge. Knowing I can go full speed whether I’m right or wrong they will clean it up! They like brothers to me and push me each and every day! Love my dawgs man.”

“Playing for guys like (Jeremy Pruitt), (Derrick Ansley), (Jimmy Brumbaugh) and so on! There’s no better group of guys that have the Passion, the grit, the smarts for the game. They have coached some great players & some great teams. Why not play your heart out for these guys!”

“I have learned a lot from our new dline coach. He is the best I’ve been coached by at my position. He knows what it takes to become a great defensive lineman and also pushes me to be great off the field. Love you coach. Let’s get better.”

In 2019, Middleton played in all 13 games for the Vols. Middleton recorded 28 tackles including 2 for a loss, a sack and a forced fumble.