Vols defensive back debuts new jersey number

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    (Photo via Tennessee Athletics)

    Bryce Thompson will be rocking a new jersey number in 2020.

    Thompson announced on Twitter Sunday afternoon that he’ll be wearing the No. 0 this season. The junior wore No. 20 during his freshman and sophomore season as a Vol. Thompson will be the first player in program history to wear No. 0.

    An NCAA rule change from over the offseason has allowed Thompson to make the jersey change. Starting this season, players are allowed to have the No. 0 as their jersey number. Players were previously only allowed to have a jersey number from No. 1 to No. 99. The use of duplicate numbers was also restricted to only two players on a team.

    Thompson nearly wore No. 3 last season. He wore No. 3 during fall camp a year ago, but changed back to No. 20 due to special teams reasons.

    The Irmo, South Carolina native enters the 2020 season as one of the cornerbacks in the SEC. Thompson has started 20 of the 22 games he has played in thus far and has six career interceptions – three in each of his first two seasons – which is tied for 13th in school history and one shy of the top seven. He’s also forced seven turnovers during his career with one forced fumble. In two years, he tallied seven pass breakups, 66 tackles and six tackles for loss.

    Thompson holds the single-game school record for interceptions with eight other players, a mark he achieved with three interceptions against UAB as a sophomore last season. He finished his second season with the Vols with 32 tackles, two tackles for loss, one sack, two pass breakups, three picks and one hurry. According to Pro Football Focus, Thompson did not allow a touchdown in 325 coverage snaps.

    As a freshman in 2018, Thompson finished with the highest grade of any true freshman cornerback in the nation. He played in all 12 games, making 10 starts, and led Tennessee in interceptions (three) and pass breakups (seven). His three interceptions ranked tied for third in the SEC and first among league freshmen, while his 10 passes defended ranked tied for ninth and first among newcomers. He also had 34 tackles, four tackles for loss and one forced fumble.

    Thompson signed with Tennessee as a four-star recruit and a top-10 prospect out of Irmo High School in South Carolina.

    Tennessee is set to begin fall practice Monday, Aug. 14. While we know Tennessee’s 2020 opponents, the 10-game conference-only schedule won’t be released until some time this week. The SEC is scheduled to begin its season Sept. 26, however.

    Ben McKee
    Ben McKee is a graduate from the University of Tennessee and has a degree in Journalism and Electronic Media. He grew up an Army brat and lived in Alabama for a bit, but he bleeds orange. He covers Tennessee football, basketball, baseball, and the Lady Vols for RTI, and he's also a co-host on the RTI Live Show and RTI Podcast. You can also hear Ben on the morning sports radio show "The Swain Event." He's the producer and co-host along with former Vol wide receiver Jayson Swain.