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USC Sports

USC wide receiver Michael Pittman Jr. announces he will play in bowl game

USC wide receiver Michael Pittman Jr. makes a reception against Oregon at the Coliseum on Nov. 2.
USC wide receiver Michael Pittman Jr. makes a reception against Oregon at the Coliseum on Nov. 2.
(Luis Sinco / Los Angeles Times)

Michael Pittman Jr. waited patiently for his breakout. The USC receiver struggled to fit in as a freshman, then bided his time as a sophomore and junior before emerging as one of the nation’s best pass catchers in his final season.

After such a long wait, he has no intention of ending his last ride prior to bowl season.

“Just in case y’all wondering,” Pittman wrote on Twitter, “I am playing in the bowl game.”

Though many top prospects have recently begun to consider skipping bowl season to protect from injury, Pittman will play for the Trojans one last time when they take the field against Iowa in the Holiday Bowl.

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For the Biletnikoff Award finalist and All-Pac-12 first team wideout, it’s a fitting end to a season in which he often carried USC’s offense on his shoulders. In a stunning September upset of Utah, Pittman made a top-tier Utes secondary look silly, as he caught 10 passes for 232 yards and a touchdown. A month later, at Colorado, Pittman took over in the fourth quarter, catching two late scores to seal a comeback victory.

USC quarterback Kedon Slovis is one of three Trojans to make the All-Pac-12 first team, including freshman offensive player of the year.

Over the season’s final five weeks, including that narrow road win, Pittman averaged more than 125 yards and a touchdown per game. No Pac-12 player has more yards receiving (1,222) or receptions (95) this season.

Pittman will have at least one more shot to immortalize one of the more impressive seasons for a Trojans receiver in recent memory. Against Iowa, which boasts one of the nation’s top pass defenses, USC’s passing attack could certainly use its top receiver.

In a historically deep class of receiver prospects, it also can’t hurt for Pittman to have another chance to stand out. The senior will undoubtedly be one of the most accomplished receivers available this April, but with so much talented depth in an elite draft at the position, his stock remains tenuous.

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Fellow wideout Tyler Vaughns finds himself in a far less certain draft situation, with a more pertinent decision to make. Vaughns, who is third on the team in receiving, has yet to share if he’s made a decision on whether he’ll declare for the draft or return to USC for final season.

For the third time in six years, USC football will end its season in San Diego when the Trojans play Iowa in the Holiday Bowl on Dec. 27.

Left tackle Austin Jackson, who has been projected as a potential top-round pick, must also decide in the days to come what his future holds.

For Pittman, it means at least one more game as a Trojan, a decision he’d hinted at weeks ago, on the occasion of his final performance at the Coliseum.

“It just happened so fast,” Pittman said from the podium, after USC’s 52-35 win over UCLA. “I’m just so thankful that I got the opportunity to battle just with my brothers and I feel like it’s been a good ride, but I still got one, maybe two more games left. I’m not done yet.”


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