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USC defensive end Malik Jackson said Monday he will transfer to Tennessee, becoming the second Trojan to take advantage of NCAA-instituted bylaws that allow USC juniors and seniors to transfer without sitting out a year.
The news was first reported by ESPN The Magazine's Bruce Feldman.
Jackson, a junior, forced a fumble that led to a touchdown in his first game as a Trojan at Virginia in 2008 and played in nine games as freshman. He recorded 3.5 sacks as a sophomore in 2009 but was listed as a backup to fellow junior Armond Armstead on USC's end-of-spring depth chart this April.
Late Monday night, Jackson told ESPNLosAngeles.com's Ramona Shelburne that the decision to leave came over time and was not a knee-jerk reaction to the NCAA's slapping down of a two-year postseason ban on the Trojans.
"I never thought about transferring when the sanctions first came out," Jackson said. "But the more I thought about it and talked to schools, the more I realized that I wanted to go and pursue other opportunities.
"I just felt like I needed to be someplace else."
Jackson said the Trojan coaches were disappointed when he told them Monday, but added that he got the impression they "really just wanted to make sure I was making the right decision for myself."
Jackson's twin brother, Marquis, committed to the Trojans on National Signing Day this February out of a local junior college but never signed a letter of intent. Various reports have attributed his non-arrival at USC to various factors, but Marquis Jackson signed with Texas Southern last month.
Malik, a product of L.A.-area Birmingham High, will depart for Tennessee's campus Tuesday. The second summer session at the Knoxville campus begins on Thursday, according to the school's official site.
Of course, Tennessee lost former head coach Lane Kiffin to the Trojans in January after Pete Carroll left to the Seattle Seahawks. The Volunteers hired former Louisiana Tech head coach and athletic director Derek Dooley to be the school's next head coach just three days after Kiffin departed.
Due to the NCAA-regulated free-transfer policy for USC juniors and seniors, Jackson will be able to compete for the Volunteers this fall when they open up play at home against Tennessee-Martin on Sept. 4.
The first Trojan to take advantage of the policy, linebacker Jordan Campbell, transferred to Louisville last month. Asked if he had heard of his USC teammates considering possible transfers, Jackson was noncommittal.
"I don't know," Jackson said. "People are kind of keeping it quiet right now until they figure out what they're going to do."Pedro Moura is author of the USC blog on ESPNLosAngeles.com.