Nick Perry headed to NFL

Nick Perry, a two-year starter at Southern California, will forgo his senior season and declare for the NFL draft.

Perry totaled 9.5 sacks for the Trojans in 2011, the most in the Pac-12. He is currently projected as a late first or early second round selection by most draft prognosticators as either a defensive end or outside linebacker in a 3-4 defense.

"We counseled Nick throughout his decision-making process and we stand behind him on this decision. His career progression at USC continued climbing to a point where he was ready to make the jump to the NFL." USC coach Lane Kffin said in a statement. "He was an awesome pass rushing for us and he created havoc throughout the Pac-12 this year in a league that featured many of the nation's most dangerous passing offenses. He will be a valued addition to any NFL team and should be an attractive choice in the upcoming draft.

"We value Nick's time and efforts at USC and appreciate the standard he set for the defensive linemen who will follow him here. We wish him much future success and know he'll be another great Trojan in the NFL."

Sources said he signed with agency Lock Metz Malinovic, the same group that represents former USC offensive linemen Tyron Smith and Kristofer O'Dowd.

Perry did not respond to repeated requests for comment over the last two weeks, and agency representatives similarly did not return messages seeking comment.

A Detroit native, Perry is one of four USC players who were contemplating entering the NFL draft, including quarterback Matt Barkley, left tackle Matt Kalil and safety T.J. McDonald.

ESPN.com reported Thursday that Kalil plans to declare for the draft. Barkley and McDonald have not yet made decisions.

The deadline to declare is Jan. 15; the deadline to pull out of the draft once declared is Jan. 18.

Pedro Moura covers USC for ESPNLosAngeles.com.