Tennessee Veteran Set to Skip Bowl Game, Declares for NFL Draft

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    Just about a week after accepting his invitation to the 2022 Reece’s Senior Bowl, Tennessee defensive back Alontae Taylor made another announcement on Wednesday night.

    Taylor, a four-year player for Tennessee, sent out a message on Twitter announcing that he was declaring for the NFL draft. However, as Taylor works to get his body healthy for the draft, he has also announced that he will be skipping out on Tennessee’s bowl game this winter.

    “I have battled through an injury these past two weeks, but I couldn’t let my teammates and coaches down by sitting out,” Taylor said at the end of his note. “I signed here to Give My All and that I did. This is by far the toughest decision I have ever made. It is with a heavy heart that I announce my decision to forego the bowl game to get healthy. Since I was a kid, I’ve always wanted to hear my name called and play in the NFL. With much consideration, prayer, and family discussions, I will be turning my attention to the Senior Bowl and declaring for the 2022 NFL DRAFT!”

    Alontae Taylor Senior Bowl

    Tennessee DB Alontae Taylor. Photo via Andrew Ferguson/ Tennessee Athletics

    Taylor’s message was long and heartfelt as he detailed his Volunteer journey and what it has meant to him.

    “First and foremost, I would like to thank my Lord and Savior Jesus Christ for blessing me with the gifts and abilities that I have to be where I am today,” Taylor said to begin the message. “I have learned a lot in these last four years here at The University of Tennessee, and I couldn’t be more thankful for Coach Pruitt and his staff for believing in me on the field but also for helping me become a better man. Coach Heupel, man it has only been a few months and the relationship we have built has been incredible. Thank You for trusting in me to lead such an amazing group of men on and off the field. I developed and became the best version of myself while being here at UT, and I will forever be appreciative for everything you and your staff taught me. To my family, thank you for always supporting and believing in me and making me the type of man I am today. For that, I am grateful and will continue to make you proud.”

    Tennessee defensive back Alontae Taylor also made sure to tip his cap to the Tennessee fanbase.

    “To Vol Nation, our support has been incredible, and there is truly no fan base in America as passionate as you,” Taylor said on Wednesday. “Your energy on gameday is unmatched, and I can’t thank you enough.”

    And lastly, Taylor gave some words to his Tennessee teammates.

    “To My Brothers, where do I even start? It has been a journey these past four years, and I can honestly say we are a family,” Taylor said. “Pushing each other every day on and off the field are the type of memories that will last forever — one team one heartbeat! Those moments were never taken for granted, and I couldn’t be more thankful for a group of men like y’all. Through the ups and downs we grew closer and to the ones who left the love never wavered. You boys will forever be my brothers.”

    With that note on social media on Wednesday night, the illustrious Tennessee career of Alontae Taylor has officially come to a close.

    In his career, Taylor had 162 total tackles, four interceptions, and two touchdowns. His career-high in interceptions (2) came in his final year and first under head coach Josh Heupel.

    Ric Butler is a Knoxville based sports media personality who has covered University of Tennessee athletics since 2017. Most recently, he served as the lead writer for the website of a local radio station. Ric also helped create and host a daily radio show called “The Blitz." Ric’s passion for sports, smooth vocal, and infectious personality have made him popular with both his peers and Vol Nation. Originally from Dallas, Ric didn’t grow up riding horses to school. But he did dream of the big city lights. When not chasing down the latest Tennessee story, Ric can be found watching the WWE, often attempting their moves in an embarrassing fashion.