Southern California junior safety Dion Bailey announced he will forego his final year of eligibility and enter the 2014 NFL Draft.
Bailey is currently the top-ranked junior strong safety prospect, according to NFLDraftScout.com ratings, but is not currently projected as a first-round pick. With good pre-draft workouts, Bailey could battle Washington State senior Deone Bucannon to be the first strong safety selected in May.
The 6-foot, 210-pound Bailey led the Trojans with five interceptions and broke up six passes as a junior. He finished fourth on the team with 62 tackles, including 6 1/2 for losses.
"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," Bailey said. "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 has already earned an undergraduate degree in policy, according to ESPNLosAngeles.com, and leaves the Trojans with 222 career tackles and 11 interceptons.
"The main reason behind ultimately making this decision is that me and my parents feel like I've done a lot in my career here at SC, making all-conference at two different positions, being pretty productive," said Bailey, who discussed the decision with his family following USC's 45-20 victory over Fresno State in the Las Vegas Bowl on Saturday. "I just feel that there isn't much more I can do to improve my individual performance numbers-wise."
Bailey was recruited as a safety out of Lakewood, Calif., but moved to strong-side linebacker in 2010. Following shoulder surgery, he returned to safety in 2013.
Other top strong safety prospects for 2014 include Baylor's Ahmad Dixon (No. 69 prospect overall), Virginia's Anthony Harris (No. 104) and LSU's Craig Loston (No. 131).