Sears returning to UT

One of Tennessee's key football players has decided to return for the 2006 season.

Arron Sears, a 6-4, 330-pound junior who earned first-team All-SEC recognition last fall, has informed head coach Phillip Fulmer of his plans, according to The Tennessean.

Sears has spent the past few weeks weighing his options and occasionally changing his mind. He had until Sunday to declare for the NFL Draft. Ultimately, he chose Big Orange over big bucks.

"It was real hard, one of the hardest decisions I've ever made," Sears told The Tennessean. "On one hand, I was looking at the last year of my college career. On the other hand, I was looking at millions of dollars. It was like recruiting, but only a lot rougher."

Junior defensive tackles Justin Harrell, Tony McDaniel and Turk McBride also considered turning pro before electing to stay put. Thus, the only junior the Vols will be losing to the NFL this year is guard Rob Smith, who announced his decision last week.

Sears strongly considered jumping to the pro ranks, especially once Smith announced his plans to do so. In the end, however, Sears didn't want his college career to end on a bad note. The Vols limped home 5-6 last season, the program's first losing record in 18 years.

As he put it: "I didn't want to go out that way."

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