Witten continues to weigh options

By Matt Hill
STAR STAFF
mhill@starhq.com

   The decision that the volunteer state has been waiting for will have to wait at least a couple of more days.
   Former Elizabethton High great and current University of Tennessee standout Jason Witten is still pondering whether or not to enter the NFL Draft as a junior.
   Most experts are expecting Witten to forgo his last year of eligibility in Knoxville, but a lot of sports writers thought the same thing about Tennessee's favorite son, Peyton Manning, in 1997 when he decided to stay.
   Right now the family is just gathering information to try and make the right decision.
   "We're talking to people," Witten's grandfather and former Elizabethton High School head football coach Dave Rider said. "We're talking to the coaches, including Coach (Phil) Fulmer. The decision is supposed to be made by the 15th of this month."
   Rider said that Witten didn't begin this process until after the Vols' loss to Maryland in the Peach Bowl.
   A press conference could happen as early as Friday in Knoxville. As of Tuesday afternoon, nothing had been formally announced.
   Witten's draft stock might be helped by the fact that fellow tight end Jeremy Shockey proved with the New York Giants this season that tight ends can be stars in the NFL.
   "I think Shockey helped," Rider said.
   But the main thing for Witten right now is where he would go in the draft. The family has been working on that, and that will most likely be the deciding factor for Witten.
   "The pros won't tell you, but they can give you an estimate," Rider said. "He's been trying to get that information. Some of that has already come in. He's also considering where he would go if he stayed. He's talked to 30 people. He's talked to professors, academic deans and Coach Fulmer. There's a lot of information to gather."