USC wide receiver JuJu Smith-Schuster intends to apply for early eligibility to enter the 2017 NFL Draft.
The junior wideout announced the news on Twitter on Saturday, writing, "This was a very difficult decision to make. I have loved my time at USC and wouldn't trade it for anything in the world. Playing for USC was truly a dream come true and I am proud of what we were able to accomplish in three years."
With a physical style of play and a natural feel for the position, Smith-Schuster (6-foot-2, 220 pounds) led the Pac-12 in receiving as a sophomore in 2015 with 1,454 yards. He got off to a very slow start for the Trojans this season, however, as Alabama's defense limited him to one catch for nine yards in the season opener, and he didn't record his first 100-yard game until Week 5 against Arizona State on Oct. 1. Prior to the Alabama game, UA coach Nick Saban compared Smith-Schuster to Dallas Cowboys WR Dez Bryant.
College underclassmen face a Jan. 16 deadline to apply for early draft eligibility.
Smith-Schuster finished the season with 70 catches for 914 yards and 10 touchdowns despite playing through back pain. Amid his slow start, Smith-Schuster's frustration peaked when he engaged in a practice scuffle with teammates in September that NFL club executives will surely want answers about when they interview the Trojans junior at the NFL Scouting Combine.
Follow Chase Goodbread on Twitter @ChaseGoodbread.