Tennessee junior nose guard Daniel McCullers announced via social media on Tuesday night that he would return for his senior season rather than enter the NFL draft.
The 6-foot-8, 360-pound lineman arrived at Tennessee from junior college last summer and earned a starting job in the middle of the Vols’ 3-4 defensive line.
“I came to UT to give my all and help put Tennessee back on the map,” McCullers posted on his Facebook page. “The last year was not the best one but we have all the talent in the world to be GREAT. So with that being said I will be coming back for my senior year. Volnation be patient we gonna be ready.”
McCullers’ decision leaves only fellow junior defensive lineman Darrington Sentimore as a question mark, although it would be a mild surprise if he decided to leave.
Tennessee is transitioning back to a 4-3 defense under new coach Butch Jones and defensive coordinator John Jancek, meaning the linemen could have different roles.
"When you have a guy that big, he's got to help you do something," Jancek said of McCullers. "It's about getting production. This is a results-oriented business."
Quarterback Tyler Bray and receivers Cordarrelle Patterson and Justin Hunter are all expected to be leaving school a year earlier to go pro, although only Hunter has publicly announced or confirmed his intentions. Even Hunter's "announcement" came in the form of a one-word tweet.
Other roster questions could be cleared up in the coming days, particularly the status of Deion Bonner and Omari Phillips, who were suspended for all or part of their freshman seasons by Derek Dooley.
Evan Woodbery covers Tennessee football. Follow him at www.Twitter.com/TennesseeBeat.