The USC Trojans have a pair of juniors slated to go very high in the 2012 NFL Draft. On Friday, one of them decided to capitalize on that opportunity as left tackle Matt Kalil decided to skip his senior season and turn pro. Kalil was an All-American in 2011 and won the Morris Trophy as the top offensive lineman in the Pac-12 Conference.
"I realize that if I came back to USC next season, I could be part of some special things here and potentially win a national championship. That was very tempting," Kalil said in a statement on Friday. "But in my research, I came to the conclusion that I can be the No. 1 tackle drafted and you can't go any higher than that. Now is the right time to go. It is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, so I have to take it."
In November, Kalil speculated that he and quarterback Matt Barkley would either stay or go together, though Barkley wouldn't quite commit to the tandem decision. Kalil was projected in the latest mock NFL draft by SB Nation to be picked No. 2, with Barkley at No. 8. Barkley has yet to make his decision on whether or not to return for his senior season.
Kalil led a Trojans offensive line that saw Barkley only sacked eight times, the lowest figure in the nation. In addition, the 6'7" Kalil blocked four kicks on special teams.
Head coach Lane Kiffin supported Kalil, whose brother Ryan is an offensive lineman for the Carolina Panthers. "All of us at USC wish Matt Kalil the best as he takes this next step in his career. Matt was thorough in his research and made a decision that is the right one for him. We fully support that decision and we told him so. He is ready for the NFL. He will be a very high draft pick and will have a long, successful career," Kiffin said.
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