Trio of Volunteers not ready for NFL
By: By Beth Rucker, Associated Press Writer
KNOXVILLE (AP) — Two Tennessee offensive linemen and the Vols starting punter said Thursday they will return to play their senior season.
Anthony Parker and Ramon Foster have decided not to enter the NFL draft, and punter Britton Colquitt also will return for his final year.
Tennessee also announced Thursday that four Vols have been invited to participate in the NFL Combine Feb. 21-24. Quarterback Erik Ainge, offensive lineman Eric Young, tight end Brad Cottam and safety Jonathan Hefney will attend.
The three juniors’ announcement came a day after All-Southeastern Conference linebacker Jerod Mayo announced he would forgo his final season to enter the NFL draft.
Tailback Arian Foster was also considering skipping his senior season, but had not announced his decisions by Thursday.
Parker and Foster were members of the Volunteers offensive line that led the nation in fewest sacks allowed last season, giving up four sacks all year. The three sacks allowed against starting quarterback Erik Ainge in his 325 pass attempts set a Football Bowl Subdivision record.
“All five of us are coming back,” Parker said of the linemen. “With as well as we did this year, a whole other offseason together and fall camp and we could only get so much more better.”
Colquitt, a member of Tennessee’s storied Colquitt punting family, punted 62 times this season for a 41.6-yard average and handled kickoff duties for most of the season.
Colquitt’s brother, Dustin Colquitt, also chose to remain at Tennessee for his senior season. He went on to be named an All-American and was drafted by the Kansas City Chiefs in the third round of the 2005 draft. His father, Craig Colquitt, played for Tennessee and was drafted in the third round of the 1978 draft by the Pittsburgh Steelers, a team he won two Super Bowls with.
Parker was tagged as a member of The Associated Press All-Southeastern Conference and as a second-team All-American.
The 6-foot-3, 305-pound Jonesboro, Ga., native said the draft advisory board projected him as a fourth or fifth round pick in April’s draft, which he said was “not too much of what I was looking for.”
Parker also said he’s two classes from graduating, something coach Phillip Fulmer encourages his players to do before turning pro.
“As close as I am, I just couldn’t walk away without finishing,” Parker said.
Foster, a 6-foot-6, 325-pound native of Henning who prepped at Ripley, said he was projected as a sixth-round pick. He also said he wanted to complete his final semester of classes and graduate before going pro.