The 6-foot-5, 218-pound Hardegree, from Jackson, Tenn., has hit with the tennis team in recent years and former coach Chris Mahoney asked Hardegree to come out for tennis. But Hardegree declined because of football.
Tennis coach Sam Winterbotham thinks Hardgree could help the team in doubles and has been impressed with Hardegree's skills.
Hardegree had one year of eligibily remaining in football.
Hardegree won the state 3A tennis singles championship as a junior and was ranked among the nation's top 50 juniors.
Hardgree isn't the only Vol who won't be on the football team this fall. Jared Hostetter, a defensive lineman who has been beset by injuries most of his UT career, has given up football. He was a redshirt junior from Louisa, Ky., with one year of eligibility left.
The departures of Hardgree and Hostetter do not relieve UT's concerns about signing 32 players. The Vols can back-court two, meaning UT is five over the limit of 85. Several of UT's signees have academic concerns.
Meanwhile, offensive lineman Cody Pope, a true freshman who enrolled in January, suffered a foot injury doing offseason workouts and likely won't participate in spring drills, Fulmer said. Spring practice starts Feb. 22.