USC cornerback Olaijah Griffin to declare for NFL draft

Ryan Kartje
USC cornerback Olaijah Griffin is pictured in a game against Fresno State on Sept. 31, 2019, in Los Angeles.
USC cornerback Olaijah Griffin will forgo another year with the Trojans for a chance to turn pro. (Associated Press)

USC’s top cornerback is leaving early for the NFL.

Olaijah Griffin announced his intent to declare for the draft in an after-midnight post on social media, which he said was made in honor of his grandmother’s birthday.

“Please know that I put a lot of thought and consideration into this decision, and I came to the conclusion that this is the best choice to help further pursue my ultimate dream of playing in the NFL,” Griffin wrote.

The junior cornerback excelled in the Trojans’ new defensive scheme, which often left him in one-on-one man coverage. He had one interception and four pass breakups during a shortened season in which he was named honorable mention on the All-Pac-12 team.

His junior season was his first unaffected by injury issues. Griffin missed four games as a freshman before undergoing offseason surgery on both of his shoulders. As a sophomore, he dealt with lingering back issues.

This season, Griffin embraced the role of USC’s top corner, snagging his first career interception and holding opposing passers to a meager 38% completion rate when throwing against him.

The son of rapper Warren G, Griffin earned a reputation for his boisterous and confident playing style, dancing and celebrating after big plays.

Griffin is the third Trojan this week to declare for the draft. But while safety Talanoa Hufanga and offensive lineman Alijah Vera-Tucker are both likely to be picked in the top few rounds, Griffin’s draft status is less assured.

USC junior cornerback Isaac Taylor-Stuart, who moved into a reserve role in 2020, is likely to step into Griffin's starting spot.

This story originally appeared in Los Angeles Times.