USC tight end Xavier Grimble will forgo his final season of eligibility and make himself available for the NFL draft.
“I’ve been at 'SC for four years and have had a pretty productive career,” Grimble told The Times in a phone interview Tuesday night. “I’m healthy and just want to move on and give it a shot…. I feel like it was kind of my time.”
The 6-foot-5, 250-pound Grimble is the fifth draft-eligible USC player to turn pro, joining receiver Marqise Lee, safety Dion Bailey, center Marcus Martin and defensive lineman George Uko.
Grimble, who redshirted as a freshman in 2010, was slowed by several injuries during the regular season, but he caught 25 passes, two for touchdowns. He finished his career with 69 receptions and five touchdowns.
Grimble, 21, said before the Las Vegas Bowl that he was leaning toward returning to USC. He said Tuesday that, at the time, he had wanted to remain focused completely on the season, and that he and his family examined his options more closely after its conclusion.
Grimble said he did not request a draft evaluation from the NFL. He said he had informed offensive coordinator Clay Helton of his decision.
“I feel confident that if I work hard and stay focused, it will work out well,”’ he said.
Grimble’s departure leaves USC with two scholarship tight ends, senior Randall Telfer and junior Jalen Cope-Fitzpatrick.
Grimble said he needed only a few classes to graduate and would return to USC to complete his degree. He said he “loved” USC and being a Trojan.
“USC is a great, powerful place,” he said. “I was coached by amazing coaches and played with some amazing players.”