Mon, Dec 9, 2013 at 5:40 AM

Tennessee's Antonio Richardson to leave early for NFL

Tennessee junior offensive lineman Antonio "Tiny" Richardson will skip his final year of college eligibility to enter the 2014 NFL draft.
"I have truly loved every moment of being a Tennessee Volunteer and will always be a Vol For Life," Richardson said in a statement released by UT on Friday. "As much as I have enjoyed my time at Tennessee, I have long dreamed of playing in the NFL and taking care of my family. After careful consideration, I have decided to forego my senior year and enter the 2014 NFL Draft."
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"I am grateful to all of my Tennessee coaches and everyone in the football program who made my life easier, from trainers to tutors to our fans, who are the best in the country. I am ready for the next level and look forward to what I know will be an exciting challenge."
The Nashville native was an All-SEC second-team selection by the Associated Press in 2012. In 2013, he was an SEC preseason first-team honoree. He was also named to the watch lists for the Lombardi and Outland Trophies.
In his three years, the 6-6, 327-pound Richardson played in 36 games, starting the final 24 over the last two seasons at left tackle. With Richardson manning left tackle, the Vols allowed just 23 sacks over the last two years, including eight in 2012, the fourth fewest in the NCAA at 0.67 per game.
"We appreciate Antonio's efforts and contributions to the University of Tennessee Football," said head coach Butch Jones. "He will always be a Vol For Life and we wish him all the best as he looks to further his career in the National Football League."
Richardson's departure means Jones will have an entirely new starting offensive line next year coming off a 5-7 season. The other four players on this year's line were seniors.
FacebookTwitterGoogle+LinkedIn10 best games of college football Week 15 FullscreenPost to FacebookPosted!A link has been posted to your Facebook feed.
Marshall (9-3, 7-1) at Rice (9-3, 7-1), 12 p.m. ET, ESPN2: Both teams make their first appearance in the Conference USA title game. Marshall's three losses have come by a total of 13 points.
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Utah State (8-4, 7-1) at No. 22 Fresno State (10-1, 7-1), 10 p.m. ET, CBS: The Bulldogs' bid for a BCS berth ended last week, but still have a chance to claim their first Mountain West title.
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No. 17 UCF (10-1, 7-0) at SMU (5-6, 4-3), 12 p.m. ET, ESPN: The Knights have already wrapped up a BCS berth, but would like to win the AAC title outright. An SMU upset would make the team bowl eligible.
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No. 1 Florida State (12-0, 8-0) vs. No. 20 Duke (10-2, 6-2) at Charlotte, 8 p.m. ET, ABC: A Seminoles win assures the team a berth in the national championship game, but this upset-minded Duke team is no pushover.
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No. 24 Texas (8-3, 7-1) at No. 7 Baylor (10-1, 7-1), 3:30 p.m. ET, FOX: Baylor wins the Big 12 with a win and an Oklahoma State loss. Texas takes the conference with a win and an Oklahoma State loss. Plenty on the line in Waco.
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No. 15 Oklahoma (9-2, 6-2) at No. 6 Oklahoma State (10-1, 7-1), 12 p.m. ET, FOX: Bedlam is huge this year, with a Cowboys win clinching the Big 12 and a spot in a BCS bowl.
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No. 10 Stanford (10-2, 7-2) at No. 13 Arizona State (10-2, 8-1), 7:45 p.m. ET, ESPN: Winners of seven in a row, the Sun Devils are the hosts in the Pac-12 title game with the chance to defy all odds and earn a BCS berth.
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No. 2 Ohio State (12-0, 8-0) vs. No. 9 Michigan State (11-1, 8-0), 8:17 p.m. ET, FOX: It's the Buckeyes' toughest test of the season, facing a Michigan State team that has won eight in a row and boasts nation's top-ranked defense. A win all but assures Ohio State a spot in the national championship game.
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No. 3 Auburn (11-1, 7-1) vs. No. 5 Missouri (11-1, 7-1) at Atlanta, 4 p.m. ET, CBS: This matchup was unthinkable back in August, but here we are. An Auburn win keeps them in the picture for a national championship berth, while Missouri looks to win the SEC in just its second year in the conference.
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