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Vols DL opts in, says he’ll take advantage of free year of eligibility

Photo By Caleb Jones/Tennessee Athletics

Darel Middleton took to Twitter on Tuesday afternoon to not only announce that he would not be opting out of the 2020 football season, but also that he intends on taking advantage of the free year of eligibility granted by the NCAA.

“I will be coming back next year for a full year of preparation, with a spring ball ,summer work outs, and fall camp with my guys,” Middleton tweeted. “I have learned a lot from our new dline coach. He is the best I’ve been coach by at my position. He knows what it take to become a great defensive lineman and also pushes me to be great off the field. Love you coach. let’s get better.

“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.”

Middleton had been rumored to potentially be opting out over the last couple of weeks.

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

“We trust our coaches, medical team and other staff in our facility!”

The 6-foot-7, 311-pound lineman joined the Vols as a junior college signee in the 2019 class and was one of Tennessee’s top contributors along the defensive line last season. Middleton played in all 13 games for the Vols and started six contests, totaling 28 tackles, two tackles for loss, a sack, a forced fumble, and a blocked kick.

Prior to coming to Tennessee, Middleton played at East Mississippi Community College. Before that, Middleton played tight end at Oak Ridge High School in 2015 before enrolling in the JUCO ranks. Before transferring to Oak Ridge, Middleton played at Powell High School.

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