Anchors along the interior line for the North Carolina Tar Heels and Southern California Trojans announced their intentions Tuesday to give up their remaining collegiate eligibility and instead head directly to the NFL.
UNC center Russell Bodine and USC defensive tackle George Uko could each earn spots within the top 100 selections in the 2014 NFL draft.
“It's been a dream of mine to play in the NFL and I feel I'm ready to take the next step in my playing career,” Bodine said in a statement. “I have been thinking about this for several weeks, weighing all my options and discussing it with my parents and the coaching staff. I feel it is the right time to move forward.
“I want to thank the coaching staff at North Carolina for helping me become a better player and person. I've had the opportunity to play in both a pro-style offense and a spread offense and I think that will enhance my opportunities at the next level.”
Bodine started the past two seasons for the Tar Heels, earning honorable mention All-ACC accolades in 2013. The 6-foot-3, 310-pound redshirt junior, plays with good initial quickness and power and projects nicely as either a center or guard in the NFL. He is taking advantage of a relatively weak senior center class which features only two centers currently regarded as top 100 prospects in Arkansas' Travis Swanson and Colorado State's Weston Richburg.
The competition could be stiffer for USC's Uko, but the 6-foot-3, 275-pound junior boasts the versatility scouts are looking for after having lined up as a defensive tackle, defensive end and even nose gurd during his career with the Trojans.
Projecting best as a traditional three-technique defensive tackle in the 4-3 alignment, Uko shows impressive initial quickness, agility and speed for a man of his size. He enjoyed a breakout 2013 campaign, which included seven tackles for loss and five sacks and earned him honorable mention honors.
Underclassmen have until January 15 to enter the 2014 NFL draft.