Height: 6-1 Weight: 250 Age: 30
Born: 2/23/1986 Hampton , VA
Selected By: New England Patriots
Pick (Overall): 10 (10)
The Tennessee defense returned five starters in 2007, and the coaching staff opted to maximize the athletic skills and tackling ability of the Volunteers' best player -- Jerod Mayo. Moving from weak-side linebacker to the middle, the junior brought intensity to the Tennessee front seven and developed as a leader.
Mayo, who overcame knee and ankle injuries earlier in his career, went on to register 140 tackles in '07, the most by a Tennessee defender since Earnest Fields registered those same totals for the Volunteers in 1990. Physical playing inside the box, his excellent range and quick burst as a blitzer helped him collect 21 tackles behind the line of scrimmage during his last two seasons at UT.
Mayo is a student of the game, spending hours working on his skills after practice and watching game film. He also has a natural feel for the game to put him right in position to make the play.
"It does come naturally to me," said Mayo prior to his junior campaign. "I've been doing this since I can remember, all the way back to rec league teams. For a while, I stood in the background here at UT because we've always had great older players. Now I feel like it's my time to step up and lead."
At Kecoughtan High School, Mayo lettered three times in football as a linebacker and a running back. He was a Prep Star All-American and 2003 Defensive Player of the Year in the Virginia Peninsula area. He added All-State and first-team All-District honors as a senior. He was rated by Super Prep as the sixth-best overall prospect in Virginia and received a three-star prospect ranking by TheInsiders.com, as that service rated him the 25th-best linebacker prospect in the nation. He also ranked 11th in the country at outside linebacker and received a four-star prospect ranking from Rivals.com.
As a senior, Mayo recorded 110 tackles, including 18 for loss, and two interceptions. He also played running back for seven games, picking up 1,245 rushing yards and scoring 13 touchdowns and five two-point conversions during his final campaign. He was a first-team All-District, All-Area and All-Region choice as junior in 2002 while recording 68 tackles including 22 for loss, four interceptions and three sacks.
Mayo redshirted at Tennessee in 2004. The following season, he appeared in six games at weak-side linebacker, but was hampered most of the season by a right knee injury that required surgery after the season. He finished with 13 tackles (10 solo).
In 2006, Mayo was a Rivals.com All-American second-team choice, despite being bothered late in the season by a hand injury, in addition to a lingering injury from an August camp, when he had a left knee sprain and ankle sprain. He managed to finish third on the team with 83 tackles (48 solo) from the weak-side linebacker position. He added five sacks, 12.5 stops for losses, a pass deflection and a fumble recovery. After the Outback Bowl, he underwent left knee arthroscopic surgery.
Moved to middle linebacker, the All-American and All-Southeastern Conference selection had a banner '07 campaign. He produced 140 tackles (79 solo) with 1.5 sacks and 8.5 stops behind the line of scrimmage. He added five pressures with a forced fumble and also had his first interception, returning that pass theft for a touchdown.
In 36 games at Tennessee, Mayo started 24 contests. He recorded 236 tackles (137 solo) with six quarterback pressures, 6.5 sacks for minus-51 yards and 21 stops for losses of 82 yards. He recovered and caused a fumble, as he deflected three passes and intercepted another for a 34-yard touchdown return.