Safety TJ McDonald to return for senior year


USC Safety T.J. McDonald announced Wednesday that he will return to USC for his senior season, the school said.

The university released this statement from McDonald late Wednesday afternoon:

“USC has been a powerful place for my family and it has been a part of my entire life,” the 2011 All-American said. “I came to USC at a unique time, when we were on probation, and a bowl ban, and nobody on my team was part of the reason for that bowl ban. We took it on full force and now we are on the way back to the greatness of USC.”

“Being a captain of this team and part of that greatness, we have an opportunity to do something great. That opportunity doesn’t come around very often. I want to finish things out and be a part of something great. So I am returning to USC for my senior season.”

McDonald was a critical part of the formula that allowed USC to go on a 10-2 run this season. He is known for his ferocious hits that show no mercy, and for absolutely commanding attention in the backfield. His athleticism can be attributed to genetic: his father, Tim McDonald was an All-American at USC and an NFL Pro Bowler, but T.J. seems to be deftly carving his own way into Trojan lore.

With McDonald returning, the entire back seven will be coming back:  Hayes PullardDion Bailey, and Lamar Dawson wil make up the linebacking corps. Cornerbacks Nickell Robey, Anthony Brown, and Isiah Thomas will be locking down receivers and running coverage when necessary. Safety Jawanza Starling will be supporting McDonald, making one of the best ball-hawking safety tandems on the west coast. And defensive linemen Devon Kennard, Wes Horton, and George Uko  will be shutting down running backs and terrorizing quarterbacks all season long.

So basically, USC is returning the ENTIRE defense, save one position on the inside of the D-line.

With the speed that USC will have on defense, it is entirely plausible for next year’s Trojans to go all the way.

The only Trojan left to make a decision is undoubtedly the biggest one: quarterback Matt Barkley.

Stay tuned for word on his decision.