Defensive lineman Rasheem Green announced Saturday he will forgo his senior season at USC to declare for the NFL draft, becoming the fourth early departure from the Trojans’ Pac-12 Conference championship-winning team.
Quarterback Sam Darnold, running back Ronald Jones and receiver Deontay Burnett announced earlier this month they would enter the draft in April.
Green is the first player from the Trojans’ defense to leave early, after linebackers Cameron Smith and Porter Gustin, plus cornerback Iman Marshall, opted to remain in school.
“My three years at USC have been a blessing and I am forever grateful for the people that I have encountered on this journey,” Green wrote on Twitter.
In a two-paragraph letter, he also thanked defensive line coach Kenechi Udeze, a former All-America defensive end at USC who also skipped his final season of eligibility to turn pro. Udeze became a first-round draft pick of the Minnesota Vikings in 2004.
Green’s announcement was delivered two days before the deadline for underclassmen to file paperwork to enter the draft. USC’s spring semester began Monday. It is unclear if any more players will opt for the NFL.
Green is expected to be a high-round draft pick, ranked 10th among defensive ends by Walter Football, what would make him a second-or-third round selection. His decision was anticipated, similar to Darnold and Jones.
Last month, Udeze said he believed Green would be a defensive end in the NFL as opposed to a defensive tackle, noting his athleticism among other factors.
“I think Rasheem has a very high skill set,” Udeze said. “I think Rasheem can do many things with his talent. In the end, I think he’s a defensive end, because of his skill set, his length, and of course, he’s 270.”
The departure, though, leaves the Trojans with a void on their defensive line.
As they led the nation in sacks with 46 in 2017, tied with playoff-bound Clemson, Green was their top pass rusher. He led the team with 10 sacks…