USC's Cody Kessler is taking his time in making draft decision

USC's Cody Kessler is taking his time in making draft decision
USC quarterback Cody Kessler passes during the Trojans' loss to UCLA at the Rose Bowl on Nov. 22. (Mark J. Terrill / Associated Press)

Cody Kessler is in no hurry to make a decision.

USC's junior quarterback vaulted into NFL draft consideration with an impressive performance this season. But he said Saturday he would refrain until after the Trojans' bowl game to decide whether he would return for his final season of eligibility or make himself available for the draft.

"No matter what I end up doing … it's a good decision to have," Kessler said after practice. "It's kind of cool."

Kessler has passed for 36 touchdowns, with only four interceptions, for a Trojans team that concluded the regular season with a 49-14 rout of Notre Dame last week.


USC is 8-4, and will find out its bowl destination and matchup Sunday.

Kessler said he met briefly with Coach Steve Sarkisian last week to discuss his options.

"He said, 'No matter what happens, I'm going to be here to help you through it,'" Kessler said. "I told him I'm worried about the bowl game. I'm not even going to think about it or talk to my family about it until after the bowl game."

Kessler, tailback Javorius Allen, receiver Nelson Agholor and defensive lineman Leonard Williams are among USC's draft-eligible players.

Oregon's Marcus Mariota and UCLA's Brett Hundley are among quarterbacks expected to make themselves available for the draft.

Kessler will request an evaluation from the NFL. Players have until mid-January to declare for the draft.

"Everyone plays football to play in the NFL," Kessler said.

Sarkisian was a USC assistant when former quarterbacks Carson Palmer and Matt Leinart decided to put off entering the draft until after their final seasons of eligibility. He was Washington's coach when Jake Locker did the same.

He also was a USC assistant when Mark Sanchez opted to leave before his senior season.

All four players were top-10 draft picks.

Sarkisian declined to reveal what he told Kessler — "Some of those things are best kept between us," he said — but he indicated that he would help the quarterback weigh all the variables.

"There's a lot that goes into it," Sarkisian said, "and I don't think you make it emotionally or just on a gut whim. It has to be an educated decision."

Kessler said that if he decided to return, the main reason would be to try to win a championship.

Sarkisian noted that if Kessler returned, he would spend another off-season with the coaching staff further learning the system with an eye toward "the things we might be able to accomplish next fall."

"I'd like to think that's a big part of the reason why he'd want to come back," Sarkisian said.

Allen waiting

Allen said he had not met with Sarkisian because he was busy completing school assignments and preparing for finals.

Allen plans to eventually speak with Sarkisian about the draft. He will request an NFL evaluation but won't make a decision until after the bowl game when he can meet with his family.

"It hasn't crossed my mind yet," he said.

Quick hits

Redshirt freshman Chris Hawkins, who started several games at cornerback before he was replaced by Adoree' Jackson, has been working at safety…. Freshman receiver JuJu Smith did not practice because of an ankle sprain, Sarkisian said…. Senior cornerback Josh Shaw, who served a 10-game suspension before returning for the game at UCLA, will remain unavailable to the media this week, Sarkisian said.

Twitter: @latimesklein