In an offseason plagued by players declaring early for the NFL draft, the USC Trojans finally received some good news on Monday evening.
That came when linebacker Hayes Pullard announced that he would be returning to school for his senior season, via his official Twitter account:
To all the Trojan Family, Its been Decided. I will be back for #OneMoreYear. One Team, One Family, One HeartBeat.. Big things in 2014!— Hayes Pullard lll ✌ (@FightOn10) January 13, 2014
The return of Pullard, a defensive captain, is huge for USC.
In 14 games during the 2013 season, the junior recorded 94 tackles (5.5 for loss), broke up six passes and tallied one interception. Furthermore, he finished with at least 10 tackles in three games this season, including 11 during the Trojans’ stunning upset of then-No. 4 Stanford, 20-17 on Nov. 16.
Since starting as a freshman in 2011, Pullard has been instrumental to the team’s defense.
With 39 starts under his belt, look for the Inglewood, Calif., native to take on a leadership role for a USC squad slim on seniors. Already the team has lost five underclassmen to the NFL draft, including safety Dion Bailey, wide receiver Marqise Lee and center Marcus Martin among others.
Not to mention, Pullard’s draft stock could benefit from having another year of experience.
Although he led the team in tackles, Pullard rarely made the game-changing plays he’s certainly capable of. Pullard only picked off one pass and failed to record a single sack—he had six in his first two seasons with the Trojans.
Still, expectations should be high for Pullard in 2014. According to NFLDraftScout.com, he is listed as the 11th-best player at his position.
All stats and rankings used in this article are courtesy of CFBstats.com.