Alijah Vera-Tucker has joined Jay Tufele as key USC football players to opt out of the 2020-21 football season.
As if the 2020 USC football year couldn’t get any more tumultuous, the Trojans are now without their best offensive lineman.
Alijah Vera-Tucker declared for the NFL Draft late Wednesday afternoon.
“I have decided to opt-out of the 2021-2021 college football season to declare and prepare for the 2021 NFL Draft,” he wrote in a statement published to Twitter.
Alijah Vera-Tucker would’ve been a major component of USC football’s 2020 season.
The move isn’t a shocker. Vera-Tucker was a valuable prospect after last season, but had hoped a return to USC for the 2020 season would allow him to transition from guard to tackle, as a way to improve his stock as a dual-threat offensive lineman.
But alas, COVID-19’s effect on football all but took away that opportunity, leading to the 6-foot-4, 315-pounder to opt-out.
Needless to say, the loss is massive for the Trojans. Should a pandemic-adjusted season take place in the spring as hoped, USC will likely be forced to call on a first-time starter in his place.
The only question is whether that stands to be at left tackle or right tackle, depending on what offensive line coach Tim Drevno does with returning redshirt-junior Jalen McKenzie, a 14-game starter at right tackle. Convention says to put him on the left side due his experience, although his familiarity on the right could win out.
Either way, the tackle spot opposite of McKenzie falls to a battle between inexperienced junior college transfer Bernard Schirmer and redshirt-freshman Jason Rodriguez, neither of whom have started a game at the FBS level.
When you have a starting quarterback in Kedon Slovis who left four different games injured in 2019 with an experienced offensive line, that is plenty concerning.
For now though, the Trojans bid adieu to one of their finest offensive linemen of the 2010s in Vera-Tucker. And the oft-wondered question of his prowess at tackle must transition to Sundays, making him an intriguing watch for years to come.