Rolle decides to return for senior year

Updated: January 9, 2004, 8:53 PM ET
Associated Press

CORAL GABLES, Fla. -- Miami cornerback Antrel Rolle will return for his senior season instead of entering the NFL draft.

Rolle and his parents met with coach Larry Coker on Friday afternoon before announcing the decision. There had been plenty of speculation that Rolle would turn pro along with safety Sean Taylor, defensive tackle Vince Wilfork and tight end Kellen Winslow.

Instead, the 6-foot-1 junior from Homestead will be one of four returning starters on a defense that led the nation in pass defense at 143.5 yards a game. The Hurricanes ranked second in total defense.

"I am elated that Antrel has decided to return for his senior season and continue his studies toward his degree," Coker said in a statement. "He is an exceptional person and player and will provide leadership as we begin our first season in the Atlantic Coast Conference."

Rolle spent the season playing in the shadow of Taylor, an All-American who led the nation with 10 interceptions, including three returned for touchdowns.

Rolle had two interceptions and seven pass breakups, getting fewer opportunities because teams rarely threw his way.

He was at his best in Miami's final two games. He held the nation's top receiver, Pittsburgh's Larry Fitzgerald, to three catches for 26 yards.

In the Orange Bowl against Florida State, P.K. Sam caught a 10-yard pass against Rolle on the Seminoles' first offensive play, then didn't have a reception the rest of the way.

Rolle also led the Hurricanes in punt returns, averaging 15.6 yards and scoring a touchdown in the season opener.

Copyright 2004 by The Associated Press