Bing, Justice, Matua leave USC early for NFL draft

Updated: January 15, 2006, 8:44 PM ET
ESPN.com news services

LOS ANGELES -- Southern California lost two more juniors to the NFL draft Sunday, when All-American safety Darnell Bing and tackle Winston Justice informed the school they would skip their senior seasons.

The Trojans have had five underclassmen declare themselves eligible for April's draft since losing the Rose Bowl to Texas, starting with running backs LenDale White and Reggie Bush, the Heisman Trophy winner and possible No. 1 pick in April's draft.

Guard Fred Matua announced that he was going pro on Saturday.

"To leave a great school like USC is hard," said Matua, who turned 22 on Saturday. "Any time you do something like that, it's hard. But I prayed about it, thought about it, and the opportunity's there and I'm trying to savor that."

Matua was an All-Pac-10 second-team pick last season. He said he entered the draft to help his family financially.

During his high school years, Matua's mother battled breast cancer.

"The hard work is in my hands," he said. "There are a lot of things that need to be done in my family. There's a lot of financial struggles that I have, there's a lot of financial struggles that need to be taken care of."

Matua said he hired Steve Feldman as his agent.

The deadline for underclassmen to declare for the draft was Sunday.

Tim Tessalone, USC's director of sports information, said Bing and Justice told him they would be leaving for the NFL. The players weren't available Sunday for comment but intended to officially announce their decisions on Monday, he said.

The 6-foot-2, 220-pound Bing had 50 tackles and four interceptions this season.

Justice started every game after missing the 2004 season when he was suspended from school for flashing a pellet gun at a student. Both are considered possible first-round draft picks.

With Bing leaving early and senior Scott Ware out of eligibility, USC will have to replace both its starting safeties next season.

The departure of Justice means USC will have to replace three of its five starting offensive linemen, including Matua and senior guard Taitusi Lutui.

Before this season, only defensive end Kenechi Udeze, wide receiver Mike Williams and middle linebacker Lofa Tatupu had left for the NFL as underclassmen under fifth-year coach Pete Carroll.

Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.

ALSO SEE