KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (AP) -Tennessee linebacker Jerod Mayo will skip his senior year to enter the NFL draft after leading the Southeastern Conference with 140 tackles this season.
``My experience here at the University of Tennessee has been a roller-coaster ride,'' Mayo said Wednesday. ``I wouldn't change anything if I could do it all over again.''
Mayo was considered the leader of the Volunteers defense, which struggled with injuries and inconsistent play early in the season before finishing strong in the SEC championship 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 Top 25 poll after beating Wisconsin 21-17 in the Jan. 1 Outback Bowl. Mayo finished with a game-high 13 tackles against the Badgers.
Mayo, who has been projected as a late second-round or early third-round pick in the April draft, said one factor in his decision to leave was he graduated in December with a degree in sport management.
``He will do well, there's no doubt about that,'' Vols defensive coordinator John Chavis said.
The 6-foot-2, 230-pound Hampton, Va., native 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.
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