O-linemen staying at UT

Tennessee offensive linemen Anthony Parker and Ramon Foster confirmed Thursday that they are returning to Knoxville for their senior seasons of football.

Junior punter Britton Colquitt also relayed to the UT Sports Information office Thursday that he is returning to the Vols for the 2008 season.

The two offensive linemen were part of a seven-man rotation this past season that allowed a nation's-best four sacks in 337 called pass plays. And the three sacks against starting quarterback Erik Ainge in 325 pass attempts set an NCAA bowl subdivision record for fewest sacks allowed in a season.

"Through the whole decision, there were a lot of thoughts going through my head," Parker said. "But when I first came to Tennessee, I made some goals for myself. I have two classes before I graduate and that became part of my decision. My mother wants me to finish school.

"At the end of the decision, I came to the conclusion of coming back to school so I could finish all the goals I set for myself. As close as I am, I just couldn't walk away from not finishing them."

A Jonesboro, Ga., product, Parker started all 14 games this season at left guard and was named All-America second team by Associated Press and third team by Rivals.com, in addition to consensus All-SEC honors.

Foster earned late-season notoriety with his selection to the All-Mayday Team, announced by ESPN analyst Mark May and honoring college football's "toughest of the tough." The Henning native made 14 starts at the right tackle position, including four starts after breaking his thumb during pregame drills before the Vanderbilt contest.

"When I first came to the University of Tennessee, the coaching staff guaranteed us that we would graduate if we did everything we were supposed to," Foster said. "Anthony and I both have only a semester and a few classes left, if that much.

"We also have a lot of offensive players coming back to go with an experienced defense. (Looking at the NFL) wasn't really a big deal to me, but since the opportunity came I just wanted to see what they said - out of curiosity, I guess."

On Wednesday, junior Jerod Mayo declared his intention to forgo his final season and make himself available for the NFL Draft.

Mayo led the Vols this season with 140 tackles during an All-SEC campaign. He was especially productive down the stretch, averaging better than 15 tackles per game over the last four contests as Tennessee advanced to the SEC Championship Game and defeated Wisconsin in the Outback Bowl.

"I have my degree from the University of Tennessee, and that was most important to my family and me," Mayo said. "It was a tough decision. I feel like I've accomplished a lot of things here, but this is my family. Coach Fulmer and all the coaches were like fathers away from home.

"Anytime you leave home, it's pretty hard. Leaving Hampton, Va., to come here was hard. It's the same thing over again."

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