Linebacker Jonathan Goff, Vanderbilt's leading tackler in 2006, will return for his senior season in 2007, Commodores coach Bobby Johnson said Friday.
Goff, a second-team all-Southeastern Conference pick last season, made the decision after receiving a preliminary evaluation of his 2007 NFL Draft projected status.
Two years ago, former VU quarterback Jay Cutler learned his probable draft status, returned for his senior season and was selected with the 11th pick in the 2006 draft by the Denver Broncos.
"Jonathan said he was looking forward to coming back and help our team get better," Johnson said. "Jonathan said it was his best interests to come back, continue to work hard, and keep improving.
"From our point of view, Jonathan has the potential to become a great football player. On the field, he gives you everything he has, is an exceptional worker who wants to get better, and is a great teammate. Away from the football field, he is just an outstanding young man. We are delighted to welcome Jonathan back for his final year."
Goff, 6-4, 240 pounds, posted a career-high 93 total tackles in 2006, eighth most in the SEC. He added 67 solo tackles, sixth most in the conference, and ranked among the team leaders with 2.5 quarterback sacks, six tackles for loss, four quarterback hurries and two forced fumbles.
Goff opened the 2006 season in superb fashion, recording 14 tackles and blocking a field goal in Vanderbilt's loss at Michigan. He followed that performance with 13 tackles and two forced fumbles in a narrow loss at Alabama.
Nominated for SEC Defensive Player of the Week honors on three occasions, Goff contributed at least five total tackles in 11 of Vanderbilt's 12 games. A member of the team's eight-player Leadership Council, Goff earned postseason Most Valuable Linebacker honors from his teammates.
Goff is one of eight Commodore defensive starters from last year expected to return next season.