Tennessee football's Bryce Thompson suspended indefinitely after arrest

Tennessee cornerback Bryce Thompson is suspended indefinitely after his arrest Saturday night on a charge of misdemeanor domestic assault.

The Vols' season opener is Saturday against Georgia State (3:30 p.m. ET, ESPNU). Thompson was expected to play a key role in UT's defense this season after he was a Freshman All-American in 2018.

"Bryce Thompson is suspended indefinitely while the process continues," Vols coach Jeremy Pruitt said in a statement Monday. "We hold our student-athletes to a high standard. The safety of all students is our first priority here at Tennessee."

Pruitt declined to elaborate on the situation when asked by the News Sentinel during his news conference Monday.

“I released a statement today," Pruitt said, "and that’s all we’re going to talk about that for right now. We’re going to focus on this game, and, for us, that’s what we can focus on.”

University of Tennessee police arrested Thompson at Stokely Hall after he had an argument with a woman with whom he's in a relationship, according to an arrest report. He was jailed overnight and released Sunday morning on $3,000 bond.

He is scheduled for arraignment at Knox County General Sessions Court on Sept. 3.

Thompson told the woman he is in a relationship with that he would "slap the (expletive) out of you," witnesses told police Saturday. The two were arguing after the woman found fake eyelashes belonging to someone else in Thompson's room, according to police.

The woman told police that Thompson "has a bad temper and has punched walls during past arguments."

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Two witnesses told police they heard a man who was yelling at a woman threaten to "shoot up the school," according to an arrest report.

"The safety of our students and campus community is our first priority," UT spokeswoman Tyra Haag said in an email to the News Sentinel. "We have staff and procedures through the Office of Student Conduct and Community Standards dedicated to investigating incidents, and making sure students and campus community members are protected. We are following that protocol. Federal law prohibits us from commenting on the conduct of any individual student."

Thompson denied making any threats or physical contact with the woman. He admitted to damaging a gate at the residence hall, according to police.

Thompson started 10 games last season and led the team with three interceptions. Alontae Taylor is listed as the starter at one cornerback position for Saturday's game, while Warren Burrell and Shawn Shamburger are listed as co-starters for the other cornerback spot.

Shamburger and Taylor also are options to play nickelback.

Burrell is a freshman who has had a strong preseason. He is expected to debut Saturday. Jerrod Means is another freshman cornerback who should receive some snaps.

“We’ve got a lot of guys that deserve to play, so we’ll probably play them all," Pruitt said. 

Thompson becomes the fourth projected starter on defense who is expected to miss the season opener. Defensive tackle Emmit Gooden is out for the season with a torn anterior cruciate ligament, nickelback Baylen Buchanan is out for the season with a spine issue, and middle linebacker Daniel Bituli is doubtful after a preseason knee procedure.

Thompson, from Irmo, South Carolina, had been committed to South Carolina coming out of Dutch Fork High School, but he did not sign with the Gamecocks. He became a late addition to Pruitt's first signing class as a four-star prospect.

After playing as a backup in last season's opener against West Virginia, Thompson was in the starting lineup by Week 2. He was graded last season as the top true freshman cornerback by Pro Football Focus.

The News Sentinel's Monica Kast contributed to this story.

Blake Toppmeyer covers University of Tennessee football. Email him at blake.toppmeyer@knoxnews.com and follow him on Twitter @btoppmeyer. If you enjoy Blake’s coverage, consider a digital subscription that will allow you access to all of it.