Jan. 3, 2011
UCLA junior All-America linebacker Akeem Ayers has decided to forego his senior season and apply for the 2011 NFL Draft.
"I want to thank my coaches, teammates and everyone at UCLA for all of their help the last few years," said Ayers. "I have had a great experience at UCLA and I am grateful that I had the opportunity to attend such an outstanding school.
"I will miss playing with my UCLA teammates next year but I feel that the decision to go to the NFL is what is best for my family. I will always be a Bruin."
"Akeem has been a big-play performer throughout his career at UCLA and we support his decision to move to the next level," said head coach Rick Neuheisel. "Who will ever forget his interceptions against Oregon and Temple that he turned into touchdowns or his many sacks? We will miss Akeem, but we look forward to watching him make those same types of plays on Sundays in the NFL."
One of the best and most versatile defensive players in the nation, Akeem earned second-team All-America honors from the Walter Camp Football Foundation and third-team acclaim from AP in 2010. Ayers was one of five Butkus Award finalists (he finished third in voting). He was a Lott IMPACT Trophy quarterfinalist and a Phil Steele Mid-Season All-American and was on the Nagurski Trophy, Bednarik Award and Rotary Lombardi Award pre-season watch lists. He was also selected All-Pac-10 first team by the league's coaches.
Ayers started all 12 games in 2010. He was fourth on the team with 68 tackles, first (tied) with 4.0 sacks, second with 10.0 tackles for loss and second (tied) with two interceptions. He was T-24th in the Pac-10 in tackles (5.67), T-14th in interceptions (0.17), T-14th in fumbles forced (0.17), T-eighth in fumbles recovered (0.17), T-16th in tackles for loss (0.83) and T-20th in sacks (0.33).
Ayers closed out 2009 by making 30 tackles, including 4.0 sacks and 9.5 tackles for loss, three interceptions (one returned for a touchdown) and a fumble return for a touchdown, in the final four games. He was named honorable mention All-Pac-10 and first-team Sophomore All-America by CollegeFootballNews.com. He led the team with four forced fumbles (T-3rd in Pac-10), was second with 6.0 sacks (T-10th in Pac-10), third with four interceptions (T-4th in Pac-10), second with 14.5 tackles for loss (5th in Pac-10) and third with 75 tackles. He tied a UCLA season record with two touchdowns on interceptions and scored three defensive TDs.