USC safety Dion Bailey announced Monday that he would forgo his final season of eligibility and make himself available for the NFL draft.
Bailey, a fourth-year junior, intercepted five passes this season, 11 in his career. He started the previous two seasons at linebacker.
“With me graduating and having my degree already, and being healthy and coming off a really good season, I feel it’s best for me to enter the draft now,” he said during a news conference at the university’s John McKay Center.
Bailey is one of several draft-eligible Trojans who will be deciding in the next few weeks whether to turn pro or remain at USC. Junior receiver Marqise Lee is projected as a possible first-round draft pick and is expected to turn pro.
Bailey said he had met with new Coach Steve Sarkisian before the Las Vegas Bowl and that Sarkisian told him he would support whatever decision Bailey made.
Bailey said he did not request a draft evaluation from the NFL but did speak with former Trojans in the league, including cornerback Nickell Robey, who left USC after last season and went undrafted.
Robey signed as a free agent with the Buffalo Bills and is playing a significant role for the team.
“It shows me where you’re drafted doesn’t matter,” Bailey said. “So I’m not nervous about the draft anymore.
“The higher you’re drafted, the better it is when comes to money, but really, when it comes to talent and productivity on the field, where you’re drafted doesn’t matter because at the end of the day only 11 people can go on the field. And they’re going to put the best 11 out there.
“So I’m just praying and hoping for an opportunity, that one team believes in me enough to give me an opportunity to show them what I can do.”