Virginia LB Talks About Choosing UT

Jerod Mayo may have surprised the experts when he announced for Tennessee Monday over in-state Virginia and Virginia Tech, but he was just following the same instincts that helped make him the nation's No. 25 ranked linebacker.

That's what a lot of people thought," Jerod Mayo said of the assumption he'd stay in state. "I know I might have disappointed a lot of people. I just felt Tennessee was the best place for me because they've got the total package. They've got academics and football."

Mayo indicated he had heard some negative spins on Tennessee's graduation rate, but he didn't let that affect his decision.

Everybody tries to use that as a negative," he said. "You know, it's ‘don't go to Tennessee because they don't graduate their kids.' I did my research and I know what goes on. A lot of that is because they have players leave early for the NFL. I just felt like it was the total package at Tennessee."

Mayo made is official visit on Jan. 18 and came away impressed with Tennessee's athletic facilities as compared to Virginia, Virginia Tech and North Carolina State.

"The thing that really impressed me most was the stadium," he said. "I've never seen a stadium that big. In the ACC they don't really have big stadiums on campus like that. The stadium and facilities were big factors, most of all the thing that got me over there was Coach (John) Chavis, the linebacker coach. He seems like a real nice person and that I could play for him the next four or five years."

Mayo, who is fully qualified, has a 3.4 GPA and is planning for a career in computer management.

"I'm going to study computer information systems management," he said. "I'm in a class now dealing with networking riders and stuff like that. I get into that."

Mayo indicated he'd be open to a redshirt season and said the Vols see him a potential impact player attacking from the edge.

"They told me I'm going to play outside linebacker," he said. "That's what everybody was recruiting me for. More specifically, Tennessee wants me as the will (weak side) linebacker."

Mayo entered his senior season at Kecoughtan High School in Hampton, Va., rated Virginia's No. 2 prospect overall. He recorded 110 tackles (92 solo) as a senior, including 18 for losses with six caused fumbles and two interceptions. Additionally, Mayo played tailback on offense and rushed for 1,245 yards and 11 touchdowns, averaging an impressive nine yards per carry. As a junior, he had 68 tackles (22 for losses) with three sacks, four interceptions and five caused fumbles.

"I'm about 218 now," he said. "I want to come in heavier for two-a-days but I'm not worried about the weight anymore because they told me they're going to put the pounds they want on me. I'm just going to let the program take over."

Although he is listed with 4.65 speed in the 40 by The Insiders, Mayo said he's faster than that. "That was in the rain at the combine," he said. "I ran a 4.5 at the school combine but at that other combine we ran in the rain on this clay type material and I had sneakers on. You can go ahead and say I run a 4.65. It doesn't matter to me because I know how fast I am." There's no argument Mayo was fast enough to escape his home state with the Cavaliers and Hokies in hot pursuit.

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