McDaniel received a fourth-round grade for the NFL Advisory Board, but others have projected he will go much higher, perhaps in the second round. Former Vol Albert Haynesworth also received a fourth-round projection but was a first-round pick of the Tennessee Titans in 2002.
McDaniel (6-7, 295) was leaning toward turning pro, but a visit to McDaniel's home in Columbia, S.C., from Fulmer and defensive line coach Dan Brooks changed his mind.
At a Wednesday press conference, McDaniel said Fulmer and Brooks were like ``second dads to me,'' and he said he ``would not give up my last year playing here for anything.''
Then, Edward Goodrich, the man McDaniel punched in the face during a basketball pickup game, filed an $800,000 lawsuit one year from the date of the incident. When McDaniel read the story Friday morning, he decided to go pro, a source said.
McDaniel, who could not be reached for comment, was also in jeopardy academically.
McDaniel is expected to sign with Synergy Sports Management, which recently signed former Vol Rob Smith. Smith declared for the NFL draft last week.
McDaniel's punch was deemed a misdemeanor assault and he was suspended for the first two games of last season amid criticism from many media and fans that he deserved greater punishment.
McDaniel did not comment to the media from the time of the incident last January until Jan. 11, when he announced he was returning to UT.
McDaniel's departure leaves the Vols a bit thin at defensive tackle. Justin Harrell is a returning starter. J.T. Mapu is expected to return this summer from a Mormon mission. Demonte Bolden and Turk McBride, who also plays end, are others in the tackle rotation.