Mays puts off thinking about his future plans
USC safety Taylor Mays made big hits and broke up several passes in the Trojans’ victory over California, fueling already rampant speculation that the junior will declare for the NFL draft after the season.
But Mays, who was selected Pacific 10 Conference defensive player of the week Monday, said he was not allowing himself to think about his future and would discuss his options with his father and Coach Pete Carroll after whatever bowl game the Trojans participate in.
“Guys make a lot of plays in college and don’t turn out in the NFL,” said the 6-foot-3, 230-pound Mays, whose father, Stafford, played defensive end in the NFL. “I know Coach Carroll knows what he’s talking about and trust what he says. It will have a big influence on my decision.”
Mays and the sixth-ranked Trojans have turned their attention to Saturday’s game at Stanford.
Mays intercepted a pass last season against the Cardinal at the Coliseum, but that play became an afterthought when Stanford won, 24-23, in one of the greatest upsets in college football history.
“That was a tough loss that taught us you can lose any game in college football at any time,” said Mays, who then referenced the Trojans’ loss to Oregon State this season.
“We kind of felt that earlier this year in Corvallis and were reminded of it. But ever since then we’ve tried to be on a tear.”
Replays of Patrick Turner’s pivotal touchdown catch against Cal appeared to show the ball hitting the ground as the 6-foot-5 receiver completed the diving reception.
USC hurriedly kicked the extra point before the play could be reviewed and possibly reversed.
Not surprisingly, the Trojans said Monday that there was no debate about the catch, though they could not help grinning when they said so.
“It’s a catch. It’s in the book,” Turner said. “I felt like I had it. When I hit the ground it probably moved around a little bit. But it’s still a touchdown.”
Said Carroll: “I don’t think you could tell.”
Offensive coordinator Steve Sarkisian said it was “a heck of a catch,” adding “Kareem Kelly’s was a great catch a few years ago too.”
Kelly’s phantom touchdown reception against Cal on a pass from Carson Palmer in 2002 started a Trojans’ rally that helped USC overcome a 21-3 deficit en route to a 30-28 victory at the Coliseum.
USC players wished tailback Broderick Green well after learning he would stop practicing and transfer at the end of the semester.
“Broderick is a great football player,” junior tailback Stafon Johnson said. “Wherever he goes I’m sure he’s going to have a big impact.”
Green said he was transferring because of family issues in his home state of Arkansas. But running backs coach Todd McNair intimated Green might have been upset because he had a big game against Washington State then did not play against Arizona when Joe McKnight returned from a toe injury.
“I don’t know if he was a little salty about that or not, but I know he had a lot on his plate at home. . . . That’s why I’m not surprised by the timing of it,” McNair said.
McKnight participated in a few drills and then left to catch a flight to Louisiana because his grandmother died, Carroll said. McKnight will be absent from practice today but is scheduled to return Wednesday. . . . USC could be in for another flag festival when it plays at Stanford on Saturday. USC ranks 114th out of 119 Bowl Subdivision teams, averaging 8.6 penalties and 78.7 penalty yards a game. Stanford is not a lot better, ranking 97th and averaging 7.3 penalties and 66.4 penalty yards a game. . . . Safety Kevin Ellison (knee) said he might try participating in a few football drills Wednesday.