|Alix Drawec / NFL|
|USC junior Matt Kalil is one of NFL.com draft expert Bucky Brooks' top-rated offensive linemen.|
It's that time of year for college football players. Reports predicting Player X's future swirl until he publicly states his intention to apply for entry into the NFL draft or stay in school for at least one more season.
USC junior offensive tackle Matt Kalil, viewed as one of the top offensive line prospects in college football, received his first taste of the spotlight Thursday when a source close to the situation told CBSSports.com that Kalil is "set to return" to college for his senior season. A high-ranking NFL scout also told CBS Sports that Kalil "definitely (is) leaning towards returning."
The USC athletic department told NFL.com the school was aware of the report but had no comment.
The Los Angeles Times caught up with Kalil on Thursday, and the first-team All-Pac-12 Conference selection told the paper he's not close to making a decision.
"I woke up to mayhem," Kalil said. "I guess it was kind of a glimpse of what's going to be happening.
"I'm not close to making a decision. That will probably happen in the next couple weeks. No decision has been made. I just started thinking about the process I'm going to go through to make the decision.
"But I think I got a thousand new followers this morning on my Twitter account."
College players have until Jan. 15 to declare their intention to apply for entry into April's draft.
At 6-foot-7, 295 pounds, Kalil is the top-rated offensive line prospect according to NFL.com draft expert Bucky Brooks, who wrote Kalil was the most polished lineman in college football this season.
If Kalil does in fact stay at USC, the decision could have residual effects on another highly regarded Trojan. NFL Network's Albert Breer reported Wednesday that some people in the NFL believe Trojans junior quarterback Matt Barkley is searching for reasons to stay in school. Breer also reported Kalil was said to be weighing his decision with Barkley's.
Barkley filed paperwork with the NFL draft advisory board last week -- a common move for most draft eligible juniors. Kalil told the Times that he has filed similar paperwork.