In a largely expected move, USC CB Nickell Robey announced Sunday that he will forgo his senior season and enter the 2013 NFL draft.
Robey experienced a largely successful career with the Trojans as a three-year starter. The junior says he made the decision a few days ago and has already informed head coach Lane Kiffin of his plans to go pro.
“He respected my decision,” Robey said. “It’s a business decision, like any other important decision I’ve made my whole life.
Robey came to USC by way of Lane Kiffin at the end of the 2009 season. He had previously been a Volunteers commit, but followed Kiff to Los Angeles and flourished in doing so. The five-foot-eight, 165-pound corner became the first USC true freshman to start a season opener at CB in the post-World War II era when he suited up and played against Hawaii in 2010. A lock-down corner, Robey has routinely been one of the beacons in the Trojans oft-maligned secondary, and one of the best cornerbacks in the Pac-12.
Over three seasons he had 162 tackles, seven interceptions, 16 deflections, and three touchdowns. In 2011, he lead the team in pass deflections with nine, and his skill at CB was lauded in the form of a number of post-season accolades. He made the 2011 CollegeFootballNews.com Sophomore All-American second team, the 2011 All-Pac-12 first team, the 2011 ESPN.com, CBSSports.com, CollegeFootballNews.com and Phil Steele All-Pac-12 first team. He also won USC’s 2011 John McKay Award. His biggest moment of all in 2011 came against Stanford, when he picked off Andrew Luck and returned it for a touchdown that gave USC a lead late in the game and absolutely electrified the Coliseum in the process.
After a prolific 2011 season Robey did not have as much fortune in 2012 because by then the other teams in the Pac-12 had figured out that throwing to his side was a dangerous decision. He didn’t put up the big numbers like he did in 2011, but that fact alone speaks to how good, how troublesome he is to opposing passing games.
Robey experienced a significant amount of hardship before arriving at Troy, and his story has been the subject of much discussion over the years. His mother died shortly before he left his native Frostproof, FL, for California but in spite of that he stayed his course because, as he said, that is what his mother would have wanted him to do. He has been a quiet leader for the Trojans, an inspiration to all around him.
With Robey gone, USC’s cornerback woes only get worse. Torin Harris–who has struggled greatly and has yet to prove himself reliable–is academically ineligible at this time, so the Trojans are going to need incoming freshmen Jalen Ramsey and Chris Hawkins to really make an impact this spring.
Per CBSSports.com, Robey is projected to go in the 3rd or4th round of the NFL Draft, and is the 14th-best player at his position.