Arian Foster to return

Despite being projected as a second-round draft choice by an NFL advisory committee, running back Arian Foster declared today that he is staying at Tennessee for his senior season.

Foster gained almost 1,200 yards last season and scored a team-high 14 touchdowns (12 rushing, 2 receiving), more than doubling the total of any other Vol. He averaged 4.9 yards per carry. He also caught 39 passes for 340 yards.

He needs just 685 yards to become Tennessee's all-time leading rusher. He is eighth on UT's all-time list with 2,394 career yards.

He said getting a second-round grade made his decision difficult.

``Some nights I didn't sleep,'' said Foster, who said he came to his decision Monday. ``It was a tough decision for me and my family. I want to thank the coaching staff, both new and old.''

Foster said he had hoped he could have ``slid into the first round'' with his pro workouts.

Foster said new running backs coach Stan Drayton, who worked with the Green Bay Packers, said Foster could make improvements to help him as an NFL back.

``He understands the concerns I have,'' Drayton said. ``He needs to study defenses a little better and learn to anticipate. It seems like he hesitated some last year.

``Those weaknesses could hurt his longevity in the NFL. My job is to tell him what weaknesses he needs to work on.''

Drayton also emphasized to Foster you can be projected to be drafted in one spot but end up in another.

Foster said he felt he could make hismelf a better NFL prospect in a year.

He does want to end his career as UT's all-time leading rusher.

``I want to be a part of that rushing lead, even if it's only for a few seasons,'' Foster said.

Foster said he has faith in quarterback Jonathan Crompton and an offensive line that returns five starters.

Foster also said he thinks he belongs in the mix with backs like Darren McFadden and Felix Jones.

Foster, who played high school ball in San Diego, is 6-1 and 225 pounds. He is a big, durable back who can catch passes out of the backfield, but he lacks the burst or gear to dart through holes.

Foster redshirted in 2004 but as a redshirt freshman rushed for 879 yards, averaging almost 150 yards in the last five games of the season. In 2006, he was plagued by injuries and a tendency to dance through the hole and wound up with only 322 yards, including a key fumble in an Outback Bowl loss to Penn State.

He rebounded this past season to rank among the top rushers in the SEC.

Foster said he felt he was underappreciated somewhat because he considers himself an all-around back who not only can run but catch and pass block.

Foster might share duties in 2008 with Montario Hardesty and Lennon Creer, who also are promising backs on UT's team.

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