In this Sept. 19, 2015, photo, Tennessee players Jalen Reeves-Maybin, left, Curt Maggitt, and Alvin Kamara (6) leave the field after the Vols' 55-10 victory over Western Carolina, in Knoxville, Tenn. Tennessee defensive end/linebacker Curt Maggitt remains
AP Photo
December 15, 2015

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (AP) Tennessee defensive end/linebacker Curt Maggitt remains confident he will play football effectively again.

Whether he will try to do it at Tennessee or in the NFL next year remains uncertain.

Maggitt said Tuesday he hasn't decided whether to enter the NFL draft or petition the NCAA for a sixth year of eligibility. The fifth-year senior was speaking to the media for the first time since injuring his hip Sept. 12 against Oklahoma.

''No announcements today,'' Maggitt said. ''Right now my biggest thing is to make sure my guys are ready to get a nine-win season and for me to get as healthy as possible for this bowl game.''

Maggitt also hasn't ruled out the possibility of returning in time for the Jan. 1 Outback Bowl between Tennessee (8-4) and No. 12 Northwestern (10-2), though that scenario seems unlikely. Maggitt, who hasn't played since the injury, said Tuesday he no longer is on crutches.

''It's really just taking it day by day,'' Maggitt said. ''If I feel amazing, we'll see what happens.''

If Maggitt doesn't play in the Outback Bowl, his history of injuries could enable him to seek a sixth year of eligibility. Maggitt missed the entire 2013 season recovering from a knee injury after tearing his right anterior cruciate ligament on November 2012.

Maggitt came back from that injury to collect 11 sacks and 15 tackles for loss in 2014. In just two games this season, Maggitt had seven tackles, including three for loss. He had two tackles for loss during the Oklahoma game in which he got hurt.

''I was hoping it was just like a bad strain or something, but I knew it was pretty bad the next couple of nights (when) I couldn't sleep,'' Maggitt said. ''I got three or four hours of sleep the next couple of nights.''

Coaches and teammates have praised Maggitt for remaining one of the Volunteers' vocal and emotional leaders despite being sidelined for most of the season.

If he doesn't play in the Outback Bowl, Maggitt said he'd talk to his family about the pros and cons of staying in school or turning pro before deciding whether to seek a sixth year of eligibility.

''I'm grateful to play this game,'' said Maggitt, who has been taking graduate courses in human resources since earning his communications studies degree in December 2014. ''I want to play as long as God allows me. As (with) all kids, the NFL is a great dream. But I love this place and I would never leave if I didn't have to. It's been a great time here.''

Maggitt is hopeful this latest injury won't affect the way he plays once he does return to action, whether that's in college or in a pro training camp.

''As long as I'm on the field, I'm going to go hard, and we'll see,'' Maggitt said. ''We'll see what God does.''

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AP college website: collegefootball.ap.org

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