Redshirt senior wide receiver Tyler Vaughns will make himself eligible for the 2021 NFL Draft, bypassing the opportunity to return for an extra season with the Trojans.
Vaughns announced his decision Monday evening, thanking the Trojan Family, coaches and everyone else who has helped him to this point.
Vaughns finished the 2019 season with a real shot at breaking the USC career receptions mark in his final season, but the abbreviated 2020 campaign kept him just short.
The 6-foot-2, 190-pound receiver from Bishop Amat High School now finishes his USC career No. 3 in receptions, with 222, and No. 9 in receiving yards, with 2,801. He’s also tied for ninth with 20 touchdowns.
Vaughns was remarkably consistent during his USC career, as he recorded at least three receptions in 37 games. He recorded eight 100-yard receiving performances, including two against UCLA, one against Notre Dame and one against Ohio State.
He authored two highlight-reel catches against the Bruins in the 2020 season finale, helping the Trojans complete a tremendous comeback at the Rose Bowl. He also had a memorable game in a 2018 loss to Arizona State, where he caught four passes for 72 yards and a touchdown, threw a 36-yard touchdown pass and returned a punt 82 yards for another score.
Vaughns is the second USC wide receiver headed into the 2021 NFL Draft with eligibility remaining, joining junior Amon-Ra St. Brown, who declared over the weekend. Those two accounted for 74 of USC’s 178 receptions in 2020 and their departures will necessitate some other receivers stepping up in 2021.
Drake London is always going to be the first answer when it comes to the USC passing game, but he’ll have plenty of talented but ultimately largely unproven help. Bru McCoy had 21 receptions for 236 yards and two touchdowns in 2020 and just seemed to be scratching the surface of what he can do in the coming years. It was also evident that USC was carving out a role for true freshman Gary Bryant Jr., who brings a speed element outside that USC hasn’t had in at least several years. John Jackson III and Josh Jackson Jr. will have opportunities to grab larger roles. And there is the wildcard of Kyle Ford, who was regarded as every bit the talent that McCoy was in the 2019 recruiting class, but will be coming off an ACL injury suffered last summer.
USC also signed three wide receivers in the 2021 recruiting class, including Michael Jackson III, Kyron Ware-Hudson and Joseph Manjack IV.