The USC defense is losing another key contributor heading into 2021.

Defensive tackle Marlon Tuipulotu announced on Friday that he is declaring for the NFL Draft, making him USC’s third defensive starter to announce he was leaving school early this week.

Tuipulotu announced his decision with a statement on Twitter.

“Growing up watching the Trojans great excel at USC made it a dream of mine to one day put on the cardinal and gold,” Tuipulotu wrote. “I have always had goals of one day playing in the NFL, and now that time has come.”

Tuipulotu had a breakout season in 2020. Following Jay Tufele’s decision to opt out of the six-game season, USC turned to Tuipulotu to replace his production and the junior stepped up with 23 tackles, 3.5 for loss, two sacks and one forced fumble. The performance in six games earned him first-team All-Pac-12 honors.

He will enter the draft alongside his cousin, USC safety Talanoa Hufanga, who declared on Wednesday. USC also saw starting cornerback Olaijah Griffin and left tackle Alijah Vera-Tucker enter the draft already.

This post first appeared on ocregister.com

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