Just yesterday, I wrote an article regarding ten NFL prospects from the Pac-10 who are debating whether to return to school or bolt for the pros.
With impeccable timing, today, two USC Trojans announced they are leaving college early for the 2011 NFL draft.
A first-team Pac-10 selection at offensive tackle, junior Tyron Smith is considered one of the top NFL prospects at his respective position. A little lean at 6'5'', 285 pounds, Smith is very quick and has great footwork. If he can improve on his strength before the NFL combine, he will certainly improve his stock.
On the other side of the trenches, junior Jurrell Casey from Long Beach, California will forgo his senior season as well. Casey was named a conference first team selection and led the Trojans with 4.5 sacks, and 11 tackles for loss. A tad short for his position, the 6'1'', 305 pound defensive tackle is considered one of the five best nationally at his position.
The departures of Smith and Casey is certainly stinging the Trojan faithful today. The USC defense was less then mediocre in 2010 giving up an average of 26.7 points per game, and already facing issues of depth before the loss of Casey.
Matt Barkley will now look to Matt Kalil to lead an offensive line facing the departures of Smith and senior Kristofer O'Dowd. Barkley was sacked a total of 16 times this season, and the Trojan running game was 27thnationally at 189.3 yards per game.
Fortunately for Lane Kiffin and company, he still has time to pull in a few blue-chip recruits on both sides of the line. Kiffin has already received verbal commitments from junior college stud Sheldon Richardson, and California 4-star prep Antwuan Woods.
It will now be important to see if George Uko, and Kevin Graf can step into contributing roles before the 2011 season.