The Pac-12 Defensive Player of the Year is off to the NFL.

Junior USC defensive lineman Tuli Tuipulotu officially declared for the 2023 NFL Draft on Tuesday, just one day after the Trojans’ season came to a close with a 46-45 loss to Tulane in the Cotton Bowl.

“Growing up, my dream was always to play at USC,” Tuipulotu wrote. “From the first time I stepped foot on campus at USC, I knew this would be my home. There is no greater feeling than playing in front of our incredible fans at the Coliseum while trying to chase greatness and follow in the footsteps of many USC legends. My time at USC was a special one that I wouldn’t trade for anything and I will always cherish the memories from my time here.

“… Although the outcome of this season was not what we wanted or expected, I gave this university, the fans, the coaches, and my teammates everything I have!”

A 3-star recruit out of the 2020 class, Tuipulotu arrived at USC with muted fanfare. And he leaves as a two-time All-Pac-12 First Team selection as well as a unanimous All-American.

This season, he was exceptional for a USC defense that needed every play he could make. Tuipulotu’s 13.5 sacks led the nation and were the most in a single season at USC since Kenechi Udeze set the Trojans’ record with 16.5 in 2003. His 22 tackles for loss also ranked second nationally.

For the year, the 6-foot-4, 290-pound lineman totaled 46 tackles to go with three pass breakups and two forced fumbles. His versatility up front saw USC deploy him all over the line of scrimmage.

As a freshman, Tuipulotu started in three of his six appearances and recorded 2.5 tackles for loss. As a sophomore, he earned first-team all-conference honors after posting 48 tackles, 7.5 TFLs, a team-high 5.5 sacks, and two forced fumbles.

Tuipulotu is projected to be a Day 2 pick in the NFL Draft, with ESPN’s Mel Kiper slotting him as the fourth-best defensive tackle in the draft class. The NFL Draft Combine will take place at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis from Feb. 27 to Mar. 6. The 2023 NFL Draft will begin on Thursday, April 27, and run through Saturday, April 29 in Kansas City.