USC’s Jay Tufele will opt out of spring football season and declare for the NFL draft

USC's Jay Tufele (78) blocks a field goal attempt by Washington State on Sept. 21, 2018, at the Coliseum.
(Wally Skalij / Los Angeles Times)

USC defensive lineman Jay Tufele will opt out of the Pac-12’s postponed spring football season and declare for the NFL draft, the rising redshirt junior announced Wednesday on Twitter.

Tufele started all 13 games for the Trojans last season and finished with 41 tackles and 4.5 sacks. He earned All-Pac-12 first-team honors and was named the team’s defensive lineman of the year.

The Pac-12 postponed its fall sports seasons last week amid the coronavirus outbreak with hopes of restarting after Jan. 1. The conference — hoping for advancements in testing, a decrease in COVID-19 case numbers and more data on long-term effects of the illness — hasn’t announced plans for its delayed spring football season. The 2021 NFL draft is scheduled for April 29-May 1, and the 6-foot-3, 315-pound Tufele is the No. 2 defensive tackle prospect for this draft, according to Walter Football.


“Although it pains me to leave all the people who have become so instrumental in my life, know that I will carry all of you with me in my heart as I embark on the next phase of my journey,” Tufele said in a statement on social media, where he also thanked this family, academic advisors, coaches and teammates.

Tufele might not be the last Trojan to leave without playing in the spring. Receiver Amon-ra St. Brown, safety Talanoa Hufanga and offensive lineman Alijah Vera-Tucker are all projected to go in the first two days of the draft.