Star wide receiver JuJu Smith-Schuster declared for the 2017 NFL Draft, opting not to return for his senior season with USC football, as expected.
USC has a Rose Bowl trophy in hand heading into 2017, but the Trojans will officially be without receiver JuJu Smith-Schuster, who unsurprisingly announced he will forgo for his senior season and declare for the 2017 NFL Draft.
“After discussing with my family and coaches, I have decided to take the next step in chasing my dreams and enter the 2017 NFL Draft,” Smith-Schuster wrote on Twitter.
“This was a very difficult decision to make. I have loved my time at USC and wouldn’t trade it for anything in the world. Playing for USC was truly a dream come true and I am proud of what we were able to accomplish in three years.”
Going into the 2016 season, it was safe to assume that Smith-Schuster would follow in the footsteps of past Trojan receivers like Robert Woods, Marqise Lee and Nelson Agholor, who thrived at USC before departing after their junior seasons for the NFL.
Smith-Schuster is projected as a first round prospect, ranked No. 3 on the board among wide receivers and No. 20 overall by CBS Sports.
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The star Trojan finishes his career as one of the top USC receivers ever. His 3,092 yards through the air rank fifth all-time while his 213 receptions is fourth, behind only Woods, Lee and Dwayne Jarrett.
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Smith-Schuster finished the season as USC’s leading receiver, tallying 914 yards and 10 touchdowns.
After a particularly prolific sophomore season, with 89 catches for 1,454 yard, the drop in production was a reflection of Smith-Schuster’s injury troubles and better distribution across the Trojan receiving targets.
Still, in his final outing as a Trojan, Smith-Schuster did not disappoint, racking up seven receptions, 133 yards and a touchdown in USC’s Rose Bowl victory over Penn State.
Despite Smith-Schuster’s departure, USC will still field a strong receiver unit in 2017.
The Trojans lose second-leading receiver Darreus Rogers to graduation, along with De’Quan Hampton and Isaac Whitney, but return Rose Bowl star Deontay Burnett and a squadron of highly-rated receiver prospects from the 2016 recruiting class, including Michael Pittman, Tyler Vaughns, Josh Imatorbhebhe, Trevon Sidney and Velus Jones.