LEXINGTON, Ky., Jan. 4 (UPI) -- Kentucky defensive end Dennis Johnson announced Friday that he will forego his final year of eligibility to enter the NFL draft.
The 6-7, 265-pound Johnson led the Southeastern Conference with a school-record 12 sacks, 19 tackles for losses and five forced fumbles this past season.
Despite his team's 2-9 mark, Johnson said his relationship with the coaching staff, including coach Guy Morriss and defensive coordinator John Goodner, made the decision a difficult one.
A Kentucky native, Johnson leaves school with 19 sacks and 128 tackles -- 35 for losses -- in 34 games. He broke into the starting lineup midway through his freshman season.
Johnson sustained a high ankle sprain in the 2000 season opener and missed the rest of the year. He received a medical hardship, which he could have used in 2002 to complete his eligibility.
Johnson is the third underclassmen to decide to leave early for the NFL draft, joining Brigham Young running back Luke Staley and Ohio State cornerback Derek Ross.