Robert Woods to enter NFL draft

Updated: January 1, 2013, 12:54 AM ET
By Garry Paskwietz | ESPN.com

USC junior wide receiver Robert Woods announced Monday he will give up his final year of college eligibility to enter the 2013 NFL draft.

If the coaches wanted to keep me another year, they would've probably got me the ball.

-- USC wide receiver Robert Woods, who had 35 more catches in 2011 than 2012

"I feel like I accomplished a lot at USC and I'm very prepared to play at the next level," Woods said in a Hyundai Sun Bowl postgame radio interview. "I would like to thank my coaches and teammates for everything they helped me with in my career at USC."

Woods is the No. 41 overall player for the 2013 draft, ranked by ESPN's Scouts Inc. He could be an option for the Houston Texans late in the first round, according to ESPN's Todd McShay.

After a Pac-12 record 111 catches last season, Woods had surgery on his ankle and sat out spring drills and offseason workouts before the 2012 season. When the year began, it was clear that the top spot in the USC receiver corps belonged to Woods' former high school teammate, Marqise Lee, who went on to be named the Biletnikoff Award winner. Woods still managed to catch 76 balls in 2012 to go along with 11 touchdowns.

Woods said after the Sun Bowl that his decline in targets this season did not play "much" of a role in his decision to forego his senior year. But he admitted it was considered.

"If the coaches wanted to keep me another year, they would've probably got me the ball," he said.

[+] EnlargeRobert Woods
Rich Schultz /Getty ImagesDynamic USC wide receiver Robert Woods will be entering the 2013 NFL draft.

Woods was a three-year starter for the Trojans and leaves as the all-time school leader in receptions -- 252 -- to go along with 2,930 receiving yards. He was also a tremendous kickoff and punt returner, with 4,619 all-purpose yards in his career.

Woods made an immediate impact at USC as a true freshman in 2010 when he earned a starting spot for Lane Kiffin's first game as Trojans' coach. Woods showed a knowledge of the playbook and a fierce competitive nature as he led the Trojans with 65 catches and a USC freshman record with 1,817 all-purpose yards.

Woods injured his ankle during a pickup basketball game in spring 2011, and it was an issue that lingered throughout the season. That didn't prevent him from setting a USC single-game mark for most catches with 17 against Minnesota and a Pac-12 record 111 catches on the season. He ended the season by being named an ESPN All-American.

Woods played high school ball at Gardena (Calif.) Serra, where he won state titles in football and track.

Woods reported that his NFL draft evaluation had a second-round grade on the high end. He has been compared to former USC receiver Steve Smith -- a second round pick by the New York Giants in 2007 -- as a savvy route runner and good blocker with football smarts.

"It was pretty hard," Woods said about his decision. "You gotta weigh the options. But I felt like it was the best decision for me."

Garry Paskwietz | email

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