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Vol Linebacker Declares Early for NFL Draft

Photo via Nathanael Rutherford/RTI

Tennessee has already had two players announce their transfers off the football roster this offseason. Now, they have a third player who won’t be on the team next season.

Redshirt junior linebacker Quart’e Sapp announce on Twitter on Friday afternoon that he intends to forgo his final season as a Vol and will declare for the 2019 NFL Draft. Sapp posted a nearly two minute-long video thanking his family, coaches, and UT fans for his last four years at Tennessee while announcing his decision to declare early for the draft.

Sapp suffered through injuries and adversity during his four years at Tennessee. He joined the Vols as a four-star outside linebacker in their 2015 class and had high expectations on him.

As a freshman, Sapp only appeared in four games and played mostly on special teams. In 2016, Sapp suffered a season-ending injury against Ohio and was awarded a medical redshirt. He came back in 2017 as a redshirt sophomore and started eight games and played in all 12 contests, totaling 78 tackles, four tackles for loss, and two passes defended.

Sapp entered 2018 as a projected starter and leader for the Vols on defense as he moved to inside linebacker in Tennessee’s new 3-4 defensive scheme. But this past season didn’t go as planned.

The 6-foot-2, 223-pound linebacker played against West Virginia, but he didn’t record any stats and didn’t see the field against ETSU and UTEP. Then, during the Florida game, he left the team at halftime and appeared destined to no longer be on the roster.

Tennessee head coach Jeremy Pruitt said later that week that things were resolved with Sapp and the redshirt junior would remain on the team.

Sapp played a lot more against Georgia the following week, totaling five tackles. He would get five tackles again in Tennessee’s next game against Auburn, and he notched a season-high eight tackles in UT’s game against Alabama the following week.

But then Sapp’s playing time started to take a hit once again over the next few weeks, and he failed to see the field in Tennessee’s season finale against Vanderbilt.

Sapp finished this season with 29 tackles in nine total appearances. He never recorded a sack as a Vol, and his UT career will largely be remembered for unreached potential.

In 27 career games, Sapp totaled 111 tackles, four tackles for loss, and two passes defended.

Sapp is the third Vol to make a decision not to return to the team next year. Sophomore quarterback Will McBride and junior defensive back Marquill Osborne both announced their decision to transfer off the roster earlier this offseason.

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