UCLA free safety Rahim Moore said he will forgo his senior season and enter the NFL draft in April.
Moore, a three-year starter, was named a first-team All-American by Sporting News this season. He led the nation with 10 interceptions in 2009 and was named a second-team All-American by the Associated Press and Walter Camp Foundation. He is the second Bruins player to declare early for the draft, following linebacker Akeem Ayers.
"I just felt like it was time," Moore said. "Leaving UCLA is hard, but it's like I had a mediocre job and now I'm going for a great job. It's not that I think UCLA is mediocre, but I have dreamed about playing in the NFL my whole life."
Moore, who turns 21 next month, is rated the top safety in some mock NFL drafts.
"I will let my work and interviews at the combine and my game films speak for me," Moore said. "I just know I'm ready."
Moore said he is involved with an agent, making him ineligible to return to UCLA. Players have until Jan. 18 to withdraw from the draft, as long as they have not signed with an agent.
"I will be returning to school to get my degree," Moore said. "I have a great mom, who raised me right. The degree is important to me."
Moore, who played at Los Angeles Dorsey High, started immediately at UCLA, the first true freshman to start for the Bruins since Matt Ware in 2001. His 14 career interceptions rank fourth on UCLA's all-time list. And Moore was a presence in the locker room as well as on the field, serving as a team captain.
"He has been a key performer in our secondary throughout his career and he never missed a start," UCLA Coach Rick Neuheisel said in a statement. "It was a thrill to watch him lead the nation with 10 interceptions in 2009. We certainly thank him for all of his contributions to the program and support his decision to take the next step in his career."
The Bruins are deep at safety. Dietrich Riley, who will be a sophomore, is expected to replace Moore, and strong safety Tony Dye might switch to free safety.
UCLA defensive tackle David Carter has been selected to play in the East-West Shrine game Jan. 22.