USC wide receiver JuJu Smith-Schuster is reportedly considering returning to the Trojans. If he did, they would be set up for a College Football Playoff run in 2017.
Underclassmen have until Jan. 16 to make a decision: either return to school for another year or declare for the 2017 NFL Draft.
It’s a decision weighing heavy on the minds of many players, and it’s certainly on the mind of USC wide receiver JuJu Smith-Schuster. Many are wondering whether or not the junior wide receiver will be back in Los Angeles playing for the Trojans next year.
Smith-Schuster had originally said he would “for sure” head back to USC if his teammate Adoree’ Jackson did the same. Then, early Monday morning, the 6-foot-2, 220-pound playmaker posted on his Snapchat account that he’d be returning to school next year instead of declaring for the draft. Though the legitimacy of his declaration can be questioned considering it was posted around 2 a.m. while laughing and singing with friends in a car.
Well, there’s no need to rush, JuJu. Take your time. All that’s on the line are millions of dollars versus a possible national championship.
If he does head to the pros, he’ll likely be selected in either the latter half of the first round or early in the second round. But if he chooses to stay, USC could be set up perfectly for a run at the College Football Playoff.
Smith-Schuster didn’t really appear to click with Max Browne at starting quarterback. Not only did the Trojans go 1-2 with Browne starting, but Smith-Schuster caught only 11 passes and two touchdowns in those three games.
With Sam Darnold at quarterback, things turned around in a hurry for USC and for Smith-Schuster. The Trojans went on to finish the season on an eight-game winning streak, and Smith-Schuster caught 52 passes for 682 yards and seven touchdowns in the nine games Darnold started.
USC ended up at No. 9 in both the CFP rankings and the AP Top 25. The Trojans ended the regular season as the hottest team in football, and had Darnold been given the keys a little sooner, USC might have been playing in the CFP — if not at least the Pac-12 title game.
With the emergence of Darnold and electric running back Ronald Jones II set for his junior season, Smith-Schuster’s return would give Clay Helton and his staff a real shot at making a run for a championship.
The Trojan Triplets could pull it off. They could return USC to the top of the college football world for the first time in more than a decade.
It would be the perfect storyline. Darnold, Jones and Smith-Schuster lead the Trojans to the peak of college football, and then all three declare for the 2018 NFL Draft immortalized as USC legends.
If Jackson also returned, that task would be made significantly easier — especially considering Iman Marshall, Daniel Imatorbhebhe, Porter Gustin and a group of other playmakers would all be back in L.A. to make it happen.
Smith-Schuster could solidify his draft stock as a first-round pick — probably somewhere in the top-15. And he’d ride out into the sunset on a Trojan horse. All he has to do is delay that big contract for one more year.