KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WATE) — It isn’t every day a Tennessee football legend sits in on class, but a few students were joined by one of the Vols’ and NFL’s best.

Peyton Manning dropped in on John Haas’ Communication Studies Senior Capstone class. The appearance by the NFL’s all-time leader in passing yards and passing touchdowns was the first in a series of class drop-ins the university is doing.

“I realize this a unique time and probably not the ideal way you guys expected to spend your senior year,” Manning said. “I just encourage you to keep a positive attitude, keep doing what you’re doing, and try to take advantage of the little bit of extra time you have to accomplish something else or help out somebody in need.”

Manning drew some visible gasps and open jaws from the students.

“I know it’s a stressful time but Peyton was exactly right when he told the students that the folks at UT are going to do everything possible to make sure they navigate this transition well,” Haas said.

Peyton showed up a little late to the online class and got a bit of a warning from Haas.

“If you were here I’d have you running the stadium steps for being late,” Haas said to Manning.

Manning graduated from UT in 1997, with a degree in communication studies and credits Haas as a professor who supports students during their time at UT and well beyond.

“Most of all, Peyton wanted to lift people’s spirits,” Haas said. “Vols help Vols, and this is just one of many ways an alum wanted to give back to our students.”

Haas also told his students to not be surprised if they see others dropping in for surprise appearances.

“You just never know who may show up to class.”

The VFL Class Crash will feature well-known Tennessee alumni, Vols for Life and other friends of the university as leaders at UT are creating new ways to support student success and celebrate their achievements.

Manning encouraged the students to find somebody they can help during this time — the elderly, parents and grandparents who need to stay safe during this time. After he left the class, Haas reiterated to his students what they had just directly heard from one of UT’s most decorated and celebrated alumni.

Chancellor Donde Plowman said the VFL Class Crash is just one of the many ways the Volunteer family is coming together to support students during this time.

“We want our students to know that Vols for Life, alumni, our leadership, and the entire campus community are here to support and encourage them to finish out the semester strong,” she said. “These are the times that define us as Volunteers. We are committed to keeping our community healthy and hopeful, and continuing to focus on our student success.”