Ben Griffiths has sensationally announced his retirement from AFL football.

The 26-year-old forward has ended his time with reigning premiers Richmond, cutting short his contract that expires at the end of 2018, to take up a four-year scholarship at the University of Southern California.

Griffiths, who has had issues with concussion over the last few years, will now chase a pro punting career in America after playing 63 senior matches for the Tigers.

He follows Tiger teammate Ben Lennon and ex-St Kilda forward Arryn Siposs as AFL players to make their way to the US for a crack at an American football career.

"Firstly, I'd like to thank Richmond's players, coaches and staff for their support over the past eight years," Griffiths told

"This was a difficult decision to make, but ultimately the opportunity was too good to refuse.

"It certainly wasn't something I had been contemplating and only arose two weeks ago.

”It was tough telling my teammates and coaches this morning but they understand and support my decision.

"I’ll always be grateful for the opportunity to play AFL football and it was an honour to represent the Richmond Football Club.”

Griffiths was selected by Richmond with pick 19 at the 2009 National Draft, making his debut in Round 10 of the 2010 season.