While the USC Trojans have not had the success that they were hoping for in recent years, there is no doubting the level of talent present on the Trojans’ roster. Much of that talent has important decisions to make this offseason on whether to return to USC with a new coaching regime being installed or taking their talents to the next level and declare for the NFL Draft. Junior Dion Bailey has become the first Trojan to make the choice and has decided that he will declare for this spring’s draft and forego his senior season.
When making the announcement, Bailey had this say about his decision:
“My time spent here at the University of Southern California has been a blast. I wouldn’t take back or trade anything that’s happened throughout these past four years that I’ve been here. Making the decision to attend this university and play football here has really changed me as a man and helped me grow for the better.”
Bailey was considering his options heading into the team’s bowl game against the Fresno State Bulldogs in the Royal Purple Las Vegas Bowl. Following the game, he discussed his options with his parents and consulting with others and came to the conclusion that he has accomplished all he can at USC to boost his draft stock.
After coming to USC as a highly touted safety prospect, Bailey quickly became a mainstay of the Trojan defense even as he was moved to different positions. He was moved down to linebacker in 2010 and was one of the team’s defensive leaders. After shoulder surgery, Bailey moved back to safety this season and was arguably the most productive member of the secondary playing in the nickel. He recorded 61 tackles on the season with a team-high five interceptions in 2013. Bailey will leave USC with 222 career tackles and 11 interceptions over three seasons as a starter.
The junior attributed the success of former teammates Robert Woods and Nickell Roby as well in his decision. Their immediate success in the NFL as rookies this season gives Bailey confidence that his skillset will translate at the next level and that this choice to forego another season at the college level is the right choice for him.
The move will be a blow to the Trojans in 2014 as they try and regroup under new head coach Steve Sarkisian to get back on top of the Pac-12. Bailey is the first player to declare early for the draft but will undoubtedly not be the last from this talented team to bolt for the pros this offseason.