Vontaze Burfict enters NFL draft

Updated: January 3, 2012, 5:32 PM ET
ESPN.com news services

TEMPE, Ariz. -- Arizona State linebacker Vontaze Burfict says he'll skip his senior season and make himself eligible for the NFL draft.

Burfict made the announcement Tuesday in a one-paragraph statement. He thanked his coaches and professors and added that he plans to return to school in the future to get his degree.

The 6-foot-3 Burfict was the Sun Devils' second-leading tackler this season with 69, including seven for losses. He also had an interception and fumble recovery.

But Burfict was supposed to be one of the Pac-12's most dominant defensive players this year and coach Dennis Erickson described the linebacker's season as "average."

As a sophomore, Burfict led the team in tackles with 90 and was a second-team All-Pac-10 selection. In 2009, he was the Pac-10's Defensive Freshman of the Year.

Burfict is ranked No. 15 on ESPN NFL draft analyst Mel Kiper Jr.'s Big Board.

Information from ESPN's Joe Schad and The Associated Press contributed to this report.