USC offensive tackle Matt Kalil has decided to forgo his senior season and seek entry into the 2012 NFL draft.
"The decision to leave USC after my junior year was not an easy one to make," Kalil said in a statement Friday. "I love this university. That's why it took a while to decide. I wanted to look at both sides of the decision and talk to a number of people. Ultimately, I sat down with my family, including my father and brother who both know the pro football experience, and I made the decision that is best for me.
"I realize that if I came back to USC next season, I could be part of some special things here and potentially win a national championship. That was very tempting. But in my research, I came to the conclusion that I can be the No. 1 tackle drafted and you can't go any higher than that. Now is the right time to go. It is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, so I have to take it."
ESPN senior NFL analyst Chris Mortensen first reported Kalil's decision.
Kalil, a projected top-five pick, informed Trojans coach Lane Kiffin, other staff members and teammates of his decision to turn pro. Kalil has received numerous All-American honors this year.
The 6-foot-7, 295-pound Kalil redshirted as a freshman, was backup to Charles Brown his second year and then started his final two years for the Trojans at left tackle.
"We fully support that decision and we told him so," Kiffin said. "He is ready for the NFL. He will be a very high draft pick and will have a long, successful career."
In 2011, Kalil didn't allow a sack and led the USC offensive line to the lowest sack-allowed total in the country.
ESPN.com's Scouts, Inc. ranks Kalil as the No. 2 prospect in the nation at any position, behind only Stanford quarterback Andrew Luck. Other top tackles include Stanford's Jonathan Martin and Iowa's Riley Reiff, although most scouts have Kalil firmly ahead of them.
Kalil's brother, Ryan Kalil, was a second-round pick of the Carolina Panthers in 2007 out of USC and signed a $49 million extension last summer that made him the highest-paid center in the NFL.
Kalil, 22, is expected to sign with Tom Condon of CAA Sports, a source told ESPNLA.com's Pedro Moura. Condon represents many of the highest-profile players in the NFL, including quarterbacks Drew Brees and Peyton Manning. CAA and Condon did not respond to numerous inquiries regarding Kalil.
It is unclear how Kalil's decision affects the Trojans quarterback, Matt Barkley.
Barkley has until Jan. 15 to declare for the draft. Both players said that although they will consult each other when making their respective decisions, they will not base anything off of what the other does.
Barkley hasn't given any indication as to when he will announce his decision.
Information from ESPN senior NFL analyst Chris Mortensen and ESPNLA.com's Pedro Moura contributed to this report.