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Defensive tackle Noah Jefferson is leaving USC

Defensive tackle Noah Jefferson is leaving USC
Defensive tackle Noah Jefferson (91) is examined on the bench after injuring an arm during USC's spring game (Gina Ferazzi / Los Angeles Times)

USC defensive tackle Noah Jefferson will transfer from the program, Jefferson said on Tuesday. Jefferson, a sophomore, played in the season-opener against Alabama but has not played since.

USC Coach Clay Helton cited a shoulder sprain, personal issues and, later, academic issues to explain Jefferson's absence. At one point early this season, Jefferson spent a week at home in Las Vegas.

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When he returned late in September, Helton said  "We're always going to put academics first and make sure he's fully healthy."

He added: "I know he's chomping, ready to get back and everything, and be right."

Jefferson has not practiced with the team since his absence.

Jefferson was a highly recruited tackle who was expected to fill the void left at the position by Stevie Tu'ikolovatu's graduation. USC will likely instead rely on Kenny Bigelow Jr., who has missed this season with a knee injury.

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