Peyton Manning surprises UT-Knoxville online class

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When the chance to surprise some college kids popped up, the most famous Volunteer volunteered.

On Thursday morning, Peyton Manning virtually crashed a U-T Knoxville communications class and surprised students forced online by the coronavirus outbreak and a campus-wide shutdown.

The kicker? Manning once took the same course taught by professor John Haas, who was in on this scheme the whole way.

It didn't take long for students to figure out "Mr. Thompson" was actually a two-time Super Bowl winner dialing in to give some advice.

"I realize this is probably not the ideal way you guys expected to spend your senior year," Manning told the class. "I just encourage you to keep a positive attitude, keep working like you're doing and try to take a little bit of the extra time you have to accomplish something else or help out somebody in need. There are a lot of people hurting out there during this time."

U-T Knoxville clearly still holds a special place in Manning's heart. In 1997, he famously passed on the NFL to return and help the Vols win the SEC.

But Manning and Hass' relationship extends far beyond football. The soon-to-be Hall of Famer even donated $1 million to create the John Haas Student Experiential Learning Endowment.

When Haas' students safely return to school, their next gift from Manning might be an in-person visit -- and nothing will Rocky Top that.

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