Tennessee football Smokey points: Top 5 Vols performers vs. ETSU Bucs

KNOXVILLE, TN - SEPTEMBER 08: Darrin Kirkland Jr. #34 of the Tennessee Volunteers returns an interception for a touchdown during a game against the East Tennessee State University Buccaneers at Neyland Stadium on September 8, 2018 in Knoxville, Tennessee. Tennesee won the game 59-3. (Photo by Donald Page/Getty Images)
KNOXVILLE, TN - SEPTEMBER 08: Darrin Kirkland Jr. #34 of the Tennessee Volunteers returns an interception for a touchdown during a game against the East Tennessee State University Buccaneers at Neyland Stadium on September 8, 2018 in Knoxville, Tennessee. Tennesee won the game 59-3. (Photo by Donald Page/Getty Images) /
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Photo by John Sommers II/Getty Images
Photo by John Sommers II/Getty Images /

We had Marquill Osborne as the first guy on this list. But a player who may have taken his starting job at cornerback, a true freshman, is the top performer from Saturday’s win. In case you haven’t noticed, defensive players dominated this list because of the big plays they came up with.

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Bryce Thompson lived up to his four-star billing as an athlete in Tennessee football’s dominant win Saturday. The guy tied Darrin Kirkland Jr. and others by finishing third on the team with tackles in four. But he also had two tackles for a loss, which was pretty impressive for a cornerback. He also broke up a pass.

The real splash play, though, was Thompson getting an interception and returning it 21 yards to the ETSU three-yard line. That play came with the Vols holding a 17-0 lead in the second quarter coming out of their weather delay.

Throughout his time in the game, Thompson was all over the field. He has a very bright future playing in Jeremy Pruitt’s system, and as we mentioned, he was doing this against an FBS quarterback. So you have to give him even a bit more credit for his play on Saturday.

Tennessee football still has a lot of work to do, but they clearly have some young talent. Thompson is among those young players with lots of talent, and he gave a great glimpse of what he could be in Saturday’s game. He had the best combination of making plays throughout and having a splash play. Because of that, he’s the Vols’ top performer from Saturday.