Talented but mercurial defensive tackle Darrington Sentimore is leaving Tennessee to attempt a career in pro football after only one season with the Vols, the university confirmed Wednesday.
UT also officially confirmed what had long been known or at least strongly assumed: Quarterback Tyler Bray and receivers Justin Hunter and Cordarrelle Patterson also were forgoing their final year of college eligibility to enter the NFL draft.
Sentimore, who would have been a senior in 2013, transferred to Tennessee last January after spending the 2011 season at Gulf Coast (Miss.) Community College. The Norco, La., native started his career in 2010 at Alabama, where he played sparingly before leaving the team after being suspended for a violation of team rules.
Sentimore played in all 12 games in 2012, starting nine. He had 18 tackles with a team-high four sacks. Playing on a defense that struggled in virtually every statistical category, Sentimore was usually a solid if not spectacular performer in 2012. He would have been penciled in as a starter on Tennessee’s revamped 4-3 defense in 2013.
On-field performance aside, Sentimore sometimes raised eyebrows because of his penchant for blunt comments. He rarely censored himself during interviews.
Before Tennessee’s season opener against North Carolina State, Sentimore offered this scouting report of the Wolfpack: “The offensive line is pretty good. That’s pretty much it. Quarterback, average. Receivers, average. I’ve played against some good quarterbacks, and I don’t think (N.C. State quarterback Mike Glennon) is as good as the other QB’s I’ve played against.”
As a former Alabama player, Sentimore fielded plenty of questions leading up to Tennessee’s game against the Tide. He didn’t disappoint when asked about Alabama coach Nick Saban.
“It’s just his personality,” Sentimore said. “Like some players, he’ll see you in the hallway and he’ll just walk right past you like he doesn’t see you. You know what I’m saying? I don’t like stuff like that.”
Then-coach Derek Dooley said Sentimore sometimes struggled with maturity.
“He’s an emotional guy. He’s a passionate guy. I’m sure he says things and does things that he looks back on and wishes he hadn’t,” Dooley said. “We’ve had a lot of discussions with him and Darrington has made a lot of mistakes that he acknowledges. That’s just part of his growth. He’s made a lot of progress from a maturity standpoint in the last year and he has a lot to keep building on.”
The team said Tuesday that defensive linemen Omari Phillips and Trent Taylor and defensive back Deion Bonner, all freshmen in 2012, would not be with the squad in 2013.
The three freshmen, Sentimore and Patterson all were members of the 2012 signing class. Including freshman running back Davante Bourque, who left the team last August, six players from that 21-man class are no longer at UT.
It’s not clear if Sentimore will be drafted or have to go the free-agent route to make the roster of an NFL team, as most of the draft projections did not include him as an early entrant this year. Hunter and Patterson are considered potential first-round picks. Bray, who recently selected California-based agent Don Yee to represent him, is currently ranked the sixth-best quarterback in the draft by CBSSports.com.
Meanwhile, five new prospects began taking classes Wednesday. Jalen Reeves-Maybin, Paul Harris, Lemond Johnson and Corey Vereen all graduated from high school and enrolled early. Riyahd Jones transferred from junior college.
Evan Woodbery covers Tennessee football. Follow him at www.Twitter.com/TennesseeBeat.