After leading the Trojans to a Rose Bowl victory, junior wide receiver JuJu Smith-Schuster announced Friday that he will forgo his senior year to enter the NFL draft.
“This was a very difficult decision to make,” Smith-Schuster said in a statement. “I have loved my time at USC and wouldn’t trade it for anything in the world.”
Smith Schuster led his team in receiving yards for two straight seasons, ending his career at USC fourth on the list of all-time receptions. He joins fellow junior offensive lineman Damien Mama who declared for the draft on Thursday.
In his final season, Smith-Schuster roped in a team-leading 914 receiving yards and snatched 10 touchdowns. His impact, however, extended beyond statistics and endzone heroics. Between his role as a captain and his on-field dance moves, Smith-Schuster succeeded in becoming both a leader and a fan favorite.
His departure coincides with with the graduation of senior wide receiver Darreus Rogers, who combined to create 45 percent of the Trojans’ offensive yardage and 42 percent of their touchdown receptions this year. Their absences will force the spotlight onto sophomore wide receiver Deontay Burnett, who shone as the star of the Rose Bowl game with 164 receiving yards and three touchdowns.
The decision is a gamble for Smith-Schuster, whose draft predictions range from 12th overall to deep in the second round depending upon the source. Although he will train for the NFL combine, which takes place throughout February and March, Smith-Schuster will have to wait until the draft on April 28 to see if his choice will pay off.
But no matter what happens in April, Smith-Schuster promises that he will always remain proud to be a Trojan.
“I don’t feel at all like I am leaving USC,” Smith-Schuster said. “USC will always be a big part of me, a time I will never forget and a place that will always be my home.”