As the 2020-2021 season draws closer, I think, it’s that time for another weekly breakout Vols’ player preview. We learned the name of Bryce Thompson early during his freshman season. Thompson accounted for 24 solo tackles, including four tackles for loss.
As a sophomore, Thompson was suspended for the first four games due to off the field issues. Our society has gotten away from second chances, we cancel at the first sign of trouble. We cancel people over past mistakes. I’m a big believer in everyone deserves a second chance (bring back Jeremy Banks), and Thompson earned that second chance after his suspension. Despite playing in two fewer games, Thompson had very similar stats.
The most notable highlight of the season was Thompson’s three INT game against UAB.
The Vols secondary should be strong with Alontae Taylor, Shawn Shamburger, and Theo Jackson returning. Other than the offensive line, the secondary should be the strongest unit on the field. But, what can Bryce Thompson improve with his game to make the secondary the best unit in all of the SEC?
First, Thompson’s strong point in his game is man-to-man coverage, and he’s super aggressive at the line of scrimmage. That is important against talented SEC wide receivers.
Secondly, Thompson needs to improve on zone coverage. Thompson seemed to get beat in cover two defense, which with another year under Pruitt, he should improve tremendously.
In order for Tennessee to have success this upcoming season, they will need Thompson to play big. Remember there is an early-season showdown with Oklahoma. Thompson will not only be a star in the defense, but he’ll be a vocal leader coming into his junior season. With Nigel Warrior graduating, someone will have to step up vocally as the leader in the secondary.
Look for Thompson to play at an All-SEC level all season long.