Shortly after his team lost 21-7 to Georgia Tech in the Sun Bowl, Southern Cal junior wide receiver Robert Woods made the announcement those close to the program had been expecting for weeks -- he's leaving the Trojans for the NFL.
The 6-1, 190 pound receiver currently ranks as NFLDraftScout.com's No. 31 overall prospect for the 2013 draft and a potential first-round pick.
Woods exploded onto the scene as a true freshman, earning the then-Pac-10 Freshman of the Year honors in 2010 by starting all 13 games and leading the team with 792 receiving yards. He followed that up with the best season of his collegiate career, hauling in 112 passes for 1,292 yards and 15 touchdowns.
Like many of his teammates, Woods failed to live up to the hype in 2012, watching his production slip significantly. Though he scored 11 touchdowns, Woods caught "just" 73 passes for 813 yards, good for a career-low 11.1 yards-per-catch average as the Trojans offense increasingly featured sophomore sensation Marqise Lee. Lee, by comparison, caught 112 passes for 1,680 yards and 15 touchdowns and was recognized as the best receiver in the country by winning the Biletnikof Award.
Though the two USC receivers are often compared, they are actually quite different prospects. Lee is unquestionably the more dynamic athlete but is hardly the polished all-around football player that Woods has proven himself to be over his three seasons at USC. Because of Woods reliable route-running, soft hands and toughness, he served not only as Matt Barkley's most trusted option on "money" downs but as the Trojans' primary punt returner, as well.
Woods, who caught just three passes for 33 yards in his final game as a Trojan, leaves USC with 252 career catches for 2,930 yards and 32 touchdowns.
While Woods was expected to make this announcement, there could be more USC defections soon. Junior cornerback Nickell Roby reportedly announced on Facebook Sunday night that he, too, would be entering the NFL draft a year early. Roby, according to reports, received just a fourth-round grade by the NFL Advisory Committee and missed a routine tackle that led to one of Georgia Tech's three scores Monday.
Keep up with the underclassmen declaring for the 2013 draft at www.NFLDraftScout.com.