"I feel the time and opportunity are right for me now," said the 6-4, 285-pound Udeze. "The indications I've received are that I'll be one of the top defensive linemen in the NFL draft. My performance in the Rose Bowl put everything into place and solidified my decision. I feel like I'm leaving on a positive note, coming off a great season for our team and for me. I'm healthy and ready to start training for the NFL combine.
"It really hurts me to leave. I'm extremely thankful for the support I received from everyone in the Trojan Family, from the coaches and players to the fans. I've had an unbelievably wonderful experience at USC. But I feel this is the best decision for me now."
Said USC head coach Pete Carroll: "After evaluating many factors, Kenechi has made a very difficult and personal decision that we know he feels comfortable with. He had a tremendous career at USC and was a real force for our defense. We'll miss him and we wish him the best at the next level."
In 2003, Udeze tied for the national lead in sacks with 16.5 and was third nationally in tackles for a loss with 26. His sacks and tackles for a loss were the most at USC since 1989. He also had 56 total tackles, 5 forced fumbles, a fumble recovery (for a touchdown), 3 deflections and a blocked field goal. In USC's win over Michigan in the Rose Bowl that propelled the Trojans to the AP national championship, 4 of his 5 tackles were for a loss, including 3 sacks (he also forced a fumble). The Pigskin Club of Washington D.C. National Defensive Player of the Year and a finalist for the Hendricks Award, he was a consensus All-American first teamer and also made the All-Pac-10 first team in 2003.
A 3-year starter, he posted 28 sacks, 51 tackles for a loss, 135 tackles, 14 forced fumbles, 3 fumble recoveries, 4 deflections and 2 blocked field goals in his career.