Mayo leaving Vols for chance in NFL
By: By Beth Rucker, Associated Press Writer
KNOXVILLE (AP) — Tennessee linebacker Jerod Mayo said Wednesday he will forgo his senior season and enter NFL draft.
“My experience here at the University of Tennessee has been a roller coaster ride,” Mayo told a news conference. “I wouldn’t change anything if I could do it all over again.”
Mayo’s 140 tackles this season were the most of any Southeastern Conference player, leading him to All-SEC honors from The Associated Press.
Mayo was also considered the leader of the Vols defense, which struggled with injuries and inconsistent play early in the season before finishing with strong play in the SEC championship game and Outback Bowl.
“Jerod has been a great leader for our football team and obviously a great player … an outstanding student and just a wonderful person to have in our program,” Tennessee coach Phillip Fulmer said. “He’ll be very difficult to replace, no doubt about that.”
Tennessee finished 12th in the final AP Top 25 after beating Wisconsin 21-17 in the Jan. 1 Outback Bowl.
Mayo led the team with 13 tackles against the Badgers.
Mayo, who has been projected to be selected in the late second round or early third round of the April 26-27 NFL draft, said one factor in his decision to leave was that he graduated in December with a degree in sport management.
“He will do well, there’s no doubt about that,” said Vols defensive coordinator John Chavis. “He will continue to represent the University of Tennessee.”
The 6-foot-2, 230-pound Hampton, Va., native took a redshirt in the 2004 season and struggled with a knee injury during the 2005 season.
He started every game but one in his final two seasons and finished the 2006 season 11th in the SEC with 83 tackles.
“I feel like I’m in a blessed and fortunate situation right now just to have the opportunity to make this decision whether to leave or to stay,” he said.
Three other juniors, tailback Arian Foster, offensive guard Anthony Parker and punter Britton Colquitt, were also reviewing their NFL draft projections and were expected to announce soon if they would skip their senior seasons.
Some sources have indicated that Foster’s decision could come as early as today.