Late Saturday night, news broke that Tennessee sophomore cornerback Bryce Thompson had been arrested on domestic assault charges. The severity of the incident is unclear at this point. Alleged details cast a cloud over Thompson’s future. Thompson is set to appear in court on September 3rd. His availability against Georgia State this Saturday remains in question. Many wonder what the impact of Bryce Thompson’s arrest would have on Tennessee’s defense.
The 2018 Freshman All-American was a bright spot in the Vol’s defense last season. Thompson recorded 34 tackles, one sack and three interceptions. Many analysts saw the 2019 season as Thompson’s opportunity to break into the national spotlight. Depending on the outcome of the situation, he may still have that opportunity.
Veterans To Fill The Void
If Thompson were to be suspended or miss significant time from the program, Tennessee’s secondary would go from a major strength to a big question heading into the season. Sophomore Alontae Taylor would be a definite in the secondary but experience would be the main concern. Baylen Buchanan, Shawn Shamburger and Theo Jackson would be next in line to see an increase in playing time. However, each of the trio has struggled with consistency throughout their college careers.
Freshmen To Add Depth
With the 2019 recruiting class, Jeremy Pruitt did add some some depth in the secondary that could get their first shot at playing time should Thompson miss any games. Warren Burrell, a three-star recruit, has been praised throughout fall camp for his high IQ and his physicality. Tyus Fields, a four-star recruit, will add competition for playing time. The freshman has mainly practiced with the safety group however that could change with the loss of Thompson. The Vol’s newcomers will have to play a major role in Tennessee’s success if their number is called.
What This Could Mean For Tennessee
The loss of Bryce Thompson would leave a large void for the Tennessee defense. Fortunately, the Volunteers showed a lot of potential in the secondary last season. Veterans stepping up and freshmen playing to their potential will be the keys to a successful season on defense. Should Thompson be suspended for a few games, Tennessee will use it as a valuable opportunity for others to showcase their skills as they band-aid his absence. If the suspension is indefinite, or results in Thompson’s dismissal, coaches will look to develop another player as they did in 2018 with Taylor and Thompson.