Redshirt junior offensive guard Alijah Vera-Tucker announced Wednesday in a statement posted to Twitter that he will be declaring for the 2021 NFL Draft, effectively opting out of any potential football season during the 2020-2021 academic year.
An Oakland native, Vera-Tucker started all 13 games at left offensive guard during the 2019 season. He was USC’s Offensive Lineman of the Year and was named to the All-Pac-12 Second Team.
“There is nothing like putting on that USC uniform and running out of that tunnel at the Coli with y’all,” he wrote to his teammates. “I know that the climb to greatness won’t stop for any of us.”
Vera-Tucker is the second Trojan to skip the season in order to prepare for the NFL Draft this spring, joining defensive lineman Jay Tufele. Other draft-eligible Trojans, including wide receivers junior Amon-Ra St. Brown and redshirt senior Tyler Vaughns, have yet to announce a decision regarding their participation in the undetermined season.
Vera-Tucker wasn’t the only Pac-12 standout to declare for the draft this week. Oregon defensive back Deommodore Lenoir joined fellow Duck and star offensive lineman Penei Sewell as the latest top prospects to declare from the conference. The uncertainty of this upcoming season has started a trend in which Vera-Tucker, Lenoir and Sewell join a handful of other NFL hopefuls, headlined by LSU wide receiver Ja’Marr Chase and Miami defensive end Gregory Rousseau, to forego this campaign.
Mock drafts from both Pro Football Network and Bleacher Report have Vera-Tucker going in the second round of the draft, which is slated for April 29 in Cleveland. The USC product has the opportunity to join Zach Banner, Austin Jackson and Tyron Smith as former Trojan offensive linemen currently starting in the NFL.
Vera-Tucker thanked God, his family, the Trojan community, the coaching, training, academic support and team staffs, as well as his “Trojan brothers” in his statement.
“My decision to attend college and play football at USC is one of the best decisions I’ve ever made,” he wrote. “I am extremely blessed and thankful for the opportunity I have to be part of a football team and earn an education that many dream about, but few get to experience.”