SEATTLE -- E.J. Savannah's football career at Washington is over.

The Huskies' leading tackler and defensive MVP from a season ago has been granted a release from his scholarship, Washington coach Tyrone Willingham said Tuesday. The school said it has granted Savannah's request to be released from his scholarship, provided he transfers to a school outside the Pac-10 Conference.

"Our top priority is to help E.J. earn a college degree, whether that is at the University of Washington or at another institution," Willingham said in a statement. "We have provided him with a tremendous support system during the last three years. I hope he is able to learn from his experience at Washington and become successful in whatever he chooses to do in life."

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Savannah's release concludes a turbulent career at Washington after the Bellevue, Wash., native was one of the top prospects in Willingham's first recruiting class.

Savannah was expected to anchor a solid group of linebackers for the 2008 season, believed to be the strength of the Huskies defense. Last year, he led Washington with 111 tackles and ranked sixth in the Pac-10 with 8.5 tackles per game.

But before fall camp started, Willingham announced that Savannah was academically ineligible. This after he broke a bone in his left arm during the spring in a non-football-related incident. Savannah was also held out from the start of spring practice in April. At that time, he was academically eligible but had not "lived up to all the responsibilities of the football team," Willingham said.

Savannah becomes the third significant name to be leaving the Huskies program in the last few months. Over the summer, running back J.R. Hasty and defensive back Jordan Murchison were both informed their scholarships would not be renewed for the 2008 season.

Hasty was the showcase signing in Willingham's first recruiting class at Washington, but never fulfilled his potential. Both Hasty and Murchison transferred to Division II Central Washington and each is starting for the Wildcats, who are ranked No. 8 in this week's Division II top 25.

Savannah could transfer to a Division II school and avoid having to sit out a season, pending resolution of academic issues. He would have to sit out a year if he transferred to another Division I program, because of NCAA transfer rules.

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