UCLA's Akeem Ayers will enter draft

In a decision that comes as no surprise, UCLA linebacker Akeem Ayers has decided to forgo his senior season and enter the NFL draft.

“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," Ayers said in a statement. "I will always be a Bruin.”

Said Bruins coach Rick Neuheisel: “Akeem has been a big-play performer throughout his career at UCLA and we support his decision to move to the next level. 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.”

Ayers, a 6-foot-4, 255-pound junior, was a second-team Walter Camp All-American, a Butkus Award finalist and an All Pac-10 selection after finishing with 68 tackles, four sacks, 10 tackles for loss and two interceptions.

Ayers is a likely first-round pick. ESPN.com's Scouts Inc. ranks him 15th overall for the 2011 draft. Mel Kiper ranks him 16th and writes, "His exceptional athleticism makes him so versatile. Ideal every-down 3-4 OLB who can rush and cover. Ayers should test well at the combine."

The Bruins continue to wait on official word from All-America safety Rahim Moore, who is likely to follow Ayers to the NFL as an early-round selection.