Alontae

University of Tennessee defensive back Alontae Taylor has already decided what his future holds.

The Vols’ four-year starter announced on Wednesday that he would forgo playing in Tennessee’s yet-to-be-announced bowl game and enter the 2022 NFL Draft. Taylor will still participate in February's Reece’s Senior Bowl, which will serve as a pre-draft skills showcase for NFL scouts.

Taylor, who graduates in December, decided not to take advantage of the extra year of eligibility granted to all NCAA student-athletes due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

“I have battled through an injury these past two weeks, but I couldn’t let my teammates and coaches down by sitting out,” Taylor tweeted on Wednesday. “I signed here to Give My All and that I did. This is by far the toughest decision I have ever made. It is with a heavy heart that I announce my decision to forego the bowl game to get healthy. 

“Since I was a kid, I’ve always wanted to hear my name called and play in the NFL. With much consideration, prayer, and family discussions, I will be turning my attention to the Senior Bowl and declaring for the 2022 NFL DRAFT!”

ESPN draft analyst Mel Kiper Jr. currently has Taylor in a three-way tie with Mississippi State’s Martin Emerson and Iowa’s Riley Moss as the No. 10-ranked cornerback in the 2022 draft.

Taylor is currently projected to be drafted anywhere from the third to fifth round. He’s the No. 78-ranked player in the draft by CBS Sports and No. 90-ranked player by The Draft Network.

The Manchester native and Coffee County alum recorded 60 tackles, two interceptions, six pass breakups and a forced fumble in 2021. He ends his UT career with 162 tackles, 19 passes defensed, five tackles for loss, four interceptions, three forced fumbles and one defensive touchdown.

Follow Michael Gallagher on Twitter @MGsports_