USC junior wide receiver JuJu Smith-Schuster announced via social media tonight that he will give up his final year of eligibility in order to enter the 2017 NFL draft.
It’s not an entirely unexpected development as Smith-Schuster had put up the kind of career body of work that speaks volumes to the professional scouts, even if his numbers dipped a little this past season as he battled injuries toward the end of the year. He leaves USC fourth on the all-time receptions list with 213, and 5th in receiving yards with 3,092, while putting up 7 catches for 133 yards and a score in the Trojans victory over Penn State in the Rose Bowl.
At 6-2, 220 Smith-Schuster offers a physical presence at the receiver position which should fit fine at the next level. He’s got enough speed to get downfield but that isn’t necessarily the strength of his game. Instead, the team that drafts him will be getting a guy who plays hurt (watch the tape of the last UCLA game) and was one of the emotional leaders of this Trojan team. In a recent ESPN.com mock draft, Smith-Schuster was projected to go in the first round with the 22nd pick to the Washington Redskins.
JuJu is the 2nd USC player to announce this week that he would be leaving school early, after offensive guard Damien Mama. The Trojans are still awaiting word from Adoree’ Jackson on his decision.
As for the future of the USC wide receiver group, the loss takes away a lot of potential experience and production but there is plenty of talent on the roster waiting for their turn. Deontay Burnett returns in the slot and he will be joined by Steven Mitchell returning from injury, along with Jalen Greene and redshirt freshmen Trevon Sidney and Velus Jones. On the outside, where Smith-Schuster and Darreus Rogers will both be gone, Michael Pittman got some playing time last year while Josh Imatorbhebhe and Tyler Vaughns will be ready for more as well.