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January 12, 2009The decision, seemingly, is an easy one.
Leave the college textbooks, the blue-book exams, and the off-campus apartment behind. Take the money, take the glory and take the notoriety that comes with being a can't-miss, first-round pick.
However, with the Jan. 15 deadline for underclassmen to declare for the NFL Draft creeping closer each day, USC junior stars Mark Sanchez and Taylor Mays have plenty to consider.
It turns out that the decision isn't as easy as it seems.
For Sanchez and Mays, the lure of millions of dollars might not be enough.
In Sanchez's case, he clearly loves being the quarterback at USC.
He handles the pressures and expectations of the job with a comfortable ease, almost basking in the extra attention.
With Matthew Stafford already declared for the draft and Oklahoma's Sam Bradford reportedly headed for the NFL, Sanchez is no lock to be the top quarterback taken.
If he were to come back for another season with virtually all of USC's offensive weapons in tact, he could certainly catapult his stock and maybe even win the Trojans' fourth Heisman Trophy since 2002.
Mays' status is slightly different.
His stock doesn't seem to be much of a question. Mays is already a first-round talent who will likely test through the roof at USC's pro day and at the NFL scouting combine, should he chose to come out early.
That being said though, the most recent rumors have Mays leaning towards staying in school for his senior season.
The highly gifted safety would certainly be the most accomplished player returning to USC's defense, helping ease the transition in new coordinator Rocky Seto's first year on the job.
If Mays were to come back, he'd be in line to potentially position himself as the top overall pick in the 2010 NFL Draft.
But the one reason why Sanchez and Mays could be headed back to USC for their senior years, though, has nothing to do with money.
Once you declare for the NFL Draft, it's all over. You're no longer just playing football; you're working for a living.
Players who have made the jump to the league have come back to USC, and they've told guys like Sanchez that the time at USC was unmatched.
If they go pro, they don't get those years back. Injuries pending, the NFL will always be there for guys like Sanchez and Mays. The time on campus won't.
They won't always have the chance to play with a team full of their friends. They won't always have the chance to play on a team that will compete for a title.
They won't always have this time, and by staying in school, they can get it for one more year.
Mississippi State NEWS