USC Football has lost its fair share of players to NFL Draft early entry. But what if those Trojans had come back for their senior year?
No football program is lacking in “What Ifs.” For USC Football it’s no different.
What if USC had handed the ball to Reggie Bush on fourth-and-two? What if John David Booty’s pass hadn’t been batted down against Oregon State? What if Hayes Pullard had swatted ASU’s Jael Mary out of the air?
Some of the biggest “What Ifs” revolve around players who departed early for the NFL Draft, prompting one Reign of Troy reader to ask, “Of the players that have left early in the last 10 years, who would’ve had the biggest impact on the team if they’d stayed?”
So here’s a look at the 10 players whose return for their senior season would have had the biggest impact on USC’s fortunes:
10. Xavier Grimble | 2014
Had Xavier Grimble known what USC’s tight end group would look like in 2014, he might have chosen to come back to build his stock rather than enter the NFL Draft, ultimately signing with the New York Giants as an undrafted free agent.
USC lost Jalen Cope-Fitzpatrick to academics before the season began leaving just two scholarship tight ends on the roster in Randall Telfer and Bryce Dixon.
Telfer’s skillset was more aimed towards blocking and his history with nagging injuries didn’t help his ability to impact games as a receiver. Meanwhile, Dixon was a true freshman who wasn’t trusted with extensive playing time or involvement.
Grimble would have been a veteran and familiar target for Cody Kessler to rely upon beyond Nelson Agholor, who he hit for more than 100 receptions.
Would that have translated to a better finish for Steve Sarkisian’s first year as the head coach? It’s tough to say how much.
Maybe Grimble could have helped the Trojan offense reach their potential in close losses at Boston College, Arizona State and Utah. That’s if USC targeted the tight end, which was a rarity in that era.