Nowhere on the recruiting trail this January is Tennessee going to be able to sign 38 games of starter’s experience and the nation’s No. 1 punt returner.
Big Orange Country found out on Thursday afternoon that it will have that level of experience and talent returning to the Volunteers’ secondary and special teams this fall as Cameron Sutton announced he will return to Rocky Top.
"I would like to take the time to say that I feel privileged to be considered a possible 2016 NFL Draft pick," Sutton said. "I have always dreamed about one day playing in the NFL. I have always set goals in my life and have taken pride in achieving each and every one of them.
"Over the last couple of weeks, I have had the opportunity to discuss different options for the upcoming year with my family. During this process, I have decided that there are some team, academic and personal goals that I would like to achieve before I take the next step.
"I would like to thank the University of Tennessee, my coaches, professors, teammates and the fans for always supporting me. I have had three of the best years of my life while being a student-athlete at the University of Tennessee and would like to continue that for one more year."
In Tennessee's 9-4 season in 2015, Sutton totaled 28 tackles (27 solo) with three tackles for loss and seven passes defended.
“In the last seven years including my time spent at William and Mary I think the thing that I do well is I identify a player's strengths and put them in a position to make plays,” Shoop said. “If you look at my record over the last seven years I think I’ve produced a lot of players who have gone off to great success in the NFL.”
Sutton played an instrumental role in Tennessee ranking No. 2 in the nation in opponent third-down conversion percentage at 27.6-percent (53 of 192).
The Jonesboro, Georgia, native returned 25 punts at an average of 18.7 yards per return with two touchdowns. His total of 467 punt return yards broke Bobby Majors' record of 457 set in 1969. In his career, he’s averaging 16.0 yards per punt return, which is best in Tennessee’s 119-year history.