Another Trojan is taking his talent to the NFL.
Receiver JuJu Smith-Schuster announced on Saturday via Twitter that he would forgo his senior season at USC and declare for the NFL Draft.
— Juju Smith Schuster (@TEAM_JUJU9) January 8, 2017
"This was a very difficult decision to make," Smith-Schuster said. "I have loved my time at USC and wouldn't trade it for anything in the world.
Smith-Schuster departs just days after USC defeated Penn State, 52-49, in one of the most dramatic and exciting Rose Bowl's in recent memory. He caught a crucial fourth quarter touchdown that brought the Trojans within a score, and the final catch of his collegiate career was a sensational diving grab along the sidelines that set up the game-tying score. He now joins guard Damien Mama as USC players who will enter the NFL draft.
That leaves eyes on All-American three-way player Adoree' Jackson who was the Jim Thorpe Award winner for the country's best defensive back in 2016. Jackson has yet to announce his decision, but told NBC LA last week that he will likely announce his decision in the coming days.
NFL teams are already starting to scout Jackson with the belief that he too will decide to enter the draft.
The question on the minds of Southern California sports fans is whether or not Smith-Schuster's decision to depart will affect Jackson's. The short answer is yes.
Jackson and Smith-Schuster are close and both have a propensity for making thrilling plays that make the jaw drop. Jackson shared his thoughts with his teammates decision to declare for the NFL Draft, by posting a meme on Twitter.
— Adoree' Jackson (@AdoreeKnows) January 8, 2017
Jackson's frustration with Smith-Schuster's decision is evident in the Denzel Washington inspired gif. One of the many things Jackson will take into consideration while making his decision is which players are returning to the Trojans.
If Jackson chooses to return to USC for his senior season, he will have his eyes set on the Heisman Trophy and a National Championship. Both of those goals suffered a setback when Smith-Schuster elected to go pro.
After the receiver's decision, Jackson is likely to follow in his teammates footsteps. After an injury on a kickoff return in the Rose Bowl put a scare into Trojans' hearts and NFL scouts, Jackson will realize that he is one freak injury away from costing himself, and his family, millions of dollars.
His draft stock is high entering the 2017 NFL season and likely can only drop from here. We know it will be tough to walk away from his coaches and teammates at USC, but it's wise for Jackson to go pro.
If Jackson does declare for the NFL draft, the departures of both Jackson and Smith-Schuster will leave a huge void at USC next season. The Trojans have always had a "next man up" mentality, but if they want to make the leap to a championship caliber team, they will need to recruit heavily and live by their own mantra: Fight On!