Manning appeared during associate professor Dr. John Haas' class. Haas - who was in on the joke - addressed Manning as Mr. Thompson so the surprise wouldn't be ruined early.
"Just wanted to drop in and say hello to all the fellow communications students there, and I realize this is a unique time", said Manning, who played under Phil Fulmer in Knoxville from 1994-98.
It didn't take long for students to figure out "Mr. Thompson" was actually a two-time Super Bowl victor dialing in to give some advice. "It's been at least since 1996 or 7 since I've been in a class".
Haas, trying to keep a straight face, quips, "If you were here, I'd be making you run the stadium steps for being late", drawing a hearty chuckle from the two-time Super Bowl champion quarterback.
Peyton Manning might not be joining the Monday Night Football broadcast booth next season, but the NFL legend and College Football Hall of Famer surprised Tennessee students during a class broadcast on Thursday. Manning offered words of encouragement to all the students in the class, telling them to "keep a positive attitude" while the world is fighting against coronavirus.
" I know the University of Tennessee is proud of you and will support you in every way they can".
When Haas' students safely return to school, their next gift from Manning might be an in-person visit - and nothing will Rocky Top that.
In 2018, Manning also honored Haas by donating $1 million to UT to establish the John Haas Student Experimental Learning Endowment.