USC S Dion Bailey won't announce draft decision until after bowl


What happens in Vegas stays in Vegas. Except for NFL draft declarations, as it appears several prominent USC underclassmen could announce their future plans following the team's appearance in the Las Vegas Bowl.

Safety Dion Bailey, cornerback Josh Shaw, linebacker Hayes Pullard, and defensive end George Uko each told the Los Angeles Times on Tuesday that any decision whether to return to school next season would not come until after the Dec. 21 game against Fresno State.

Uko said he has requested an evaluation from the draft advisory board and sought input from new head coach Steve Sarkisian, while Bailey was set to sit down with his parents to weigh the pros and cons of returning as a redshirt senior next season.

"I'm pretty sure I'll have it figured out within this week, but I probably won't announce anything until after the bowl game. I don't want to be a distraction to the team and what we're focused on," Bailey told

For Bailey and Shaw specifically, the matchup against the Bulldogs should offer an excellent final exam of their professional prospects. Fresno State quarterback Derek Carr has emerged as the top senior signal-caller in the 2014 NFL Draft and could be the No. 1 overall pick, while wide receivers Davante Adams, Isaiah Burse, and Josh Harper have accounted for 3,643 receiving yards and caught 41 of Carr's 48 touchdown passes this season.

Holding down two spots in the secondary to shut down that prolific passing attack, Bailey and Shaw are both intriguing hybrid players that have played multiple positions in their time with the Trojans.

Shaw (6-foot-1, 195 pounds) has alternated between safety and corner, but thrived in the latter role this season with 61 tackles, 5.5 tackles for loss, six pass breakups, three interceptions and returned one blocked punt for an interception. With his physical style, NFL Media analyst Charles Davis believes Shaw is better suited to play safety on Sundays, where he could effectively defend tight ends.

After starting the previous two seasons as an undersized outside linebacker to attack the proliferation of spread offenses across the Pac-12, Bailey moved back to safety and has a team-high five interceptions. Bailey (6-0, 200) might be the quintessential tweener, but has shown a knack for making plays at critical moments, including a pick at the goal line in the upset win over Stanford.

If Shaw, Bailey and the rest of the USC defense can keep a Fresno State offense that has scored 41 or more points in all but three games this season in check, it could serve as confirmation that those prominent draft-eligible players are ready to move on.

If not, well, you know what they say about Vegas.

Follow Dan Greenspan on Twitter @DanGreenspan.

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