Marqise Lee doesn't want him to go. Neither do USC football fans.
It may not matter.
Junior receiver Robert Woods has requested an evaluation from the NFL Draft Advisory board to help shape his big decision.
Should he stay or should he go?
Trojan quarterback Matt Barkley decided to come back for his senior season, thrilling Trojan fans everywhere with his decision. But his regression has probably cost him millions due to his dropping NFL draft stock.
Woods can't ignore that. Nor can he ignore his surgically repaired ankle that kept him out of spring practice and summer workouts. What if he reinjures it and has to sit out some games? That would seriously affect his stock as well.
So would another ho-hum year.
Woods had a spectacular, record-breaking 2011: 111 receptions for 1,292 yards and 15 touchdowns. He was also a Fred Biletnikoff Award finalist, averaged 107.7 yards-per-game and finished the season ranked No. 8 among all receivers in FBS.
2012 hasn't been as kind.
Barkley, for unknown reasons, simply wasn't throwing the ball in Woods' direction as often as he did in 2011—he was throwing it deep to teammate Lee instead. This year Woods caught 73 passes for 813 yards giving him a 67.8 yards-per-game average. Lee, on the other hand, caught 112 passes for 1,680 yards and a whopping 140 yards-per-game average.
Lee is now a legitimate Heisman candidate while Woods is out of the conversation. Why would Woods want to come back?
It's quite possible that Woods will get more receptions next season via the arm of quarterback Max Wittek. In Wittek's first start against Notre Dame last Saturday, the balls were being thrown right at Woods.
"I just finally got a chance to get the ball in my hands," Woods told The Orange County Register's Rich Hammond. "Other than that, it was just that Max was looking at me a little more, and squeezing in some of those throws.''
Hammond also noted that "Woods said that being able to play with Wittek—Barkley's presumptive replacement in 2013—would 'definitely have an impact' on his NFL decision because Wittek 'has a strong arm and he can get me the ball.'''
That may be a telling quote, indicating that Woods is leaning toward staying another year. His request for an NFL draft evaluation is a smart move because, either way, he'll know what he is or isn't giving up if he decides to stay.
But why come back at all?
Woods has already proven everything he needs to prove and the proof comes via USC's official website: "His 111 catches in 2011 broke Keyshawn Johnson's Pac-12 and USC season receptions record."
Woods also broke Dwayne Jarrett's career reception record at USC when he caught his 217th pass at Colorado on October 20. What more does he need to do?
Despite Trojan fans wanting Woods to stay for their own selfish reasons, they also should look more at Robert Woods the person rather than the football player. He's a nice kid who interacts with delight with his fans on twitter. Shouldn't Trojan fans have his best interests at heart, not their own?
He's given USC fans three great years of football. He's broken records left and right. He has nothing left to prove. Unless his draft evaluation comes back with him projected to be a mid- to late-round selection—and I doubt it will—Woods should declare for the draft after the Trojans' bowl game.
Robert Woods has earned our respect, and all USC fans should wish him well in the NFL.
His work is done here.
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