USC DE Nick Perry officially enters 2012 NFL Draft

LOS ANGELES CA - OCTOBER 16: Nick Perry #8 of the USC Trojans celebrates his sack with Armond Armstead #94 and Shane Horton #23 against the California Golden Bears during the first quarter at Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum on October 16 2010 in Los Angeles California. (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)

Everyone is expected Southern California defensive end Nick Perry to enter the 2012 NFL Draft. His coach, Lane Kiffin, even wished him well in the NFL. But until today, Perry had been quiet on his intentions.

Now, the junior end has made if official. He's in the 2012 NFL Draft.

"After much consideration, I have decided to forgo my college football career and declare for the draft," Perry said in a release by USC (via the LA Times). "I have thought long and hard about this decision and I have come to the conclusion that this is the best decision for me at this moment.

"Over the years, I have matured and learned what it takes to be a Trojan and for that I would like to thank the Trojan family. I understand that I have chance at being a part of something great next season with the Trojans, but this opportunity doesn't come around every day. I am confident in my decision and I am ready for this long and hard journey in the next phase of my career."

Perry projects as a first-round player who could line up at end for a 4-3 defense but could be even better as a linebacker in a 3-4 scheme. He's an agile pass rusher and finished the season with 9.5 sacks.

Next up for the Trojans will be official decisions by quarterback Matt Barkley and safety T.J. McDonald. Chris Mortensen of ESPN reported earlier this month that offensive tackle Matt Kalil is entering the draft.

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