George Uko leaving USC for draft

USC junior defensive lineman George Uko announced Tuesday he will forgo his final year of eligibility and enter the NFL draft.

Uko posted his decision on his private Twitter account, and the USC official Twitter account revealed the news:

Uko had 36 tackles, seven tackles for losses and five sacks in 2013 and was named All Pac-12 honorable mention for the second year in a row. He finishes with 85 tackles, 17.5 tackles for losses and 11.5 sacks.

The loss of Uko is a blow to a USC interior defensive line that is expected to be a strength of the team in 2014, with ESPN All-American Leonard Williams, Antwaun Woods, Kenny Bigelow, Texas Tech transfer Delvon Simmons and incoming junior college signee Claudeson Pelon.

Uko joins teammates Dion Bailey and Marcus Martin in declaring early for the draft. Tight ends Randall Telfer and Xavier Grimble had previously announced that they would be returning to USC in 2014.

The Trojans are still awaiting decisions from other draft-eligible players, including Marqise Lee, Hayes Pullard and Aundrey Walker.