While waiting for star quarterback Matt Barkley to decide whether or not he will make himself available for the 2012 NFL draft, the USC Trojans got good news about the status of the team’s other No. 7. All-American safety T.J. McDonald has announced his intention to return to USC for his senior season.
The 6’3,” 205-pound safety is listed as the top junior at his position by ESPN draft guru Mel Kiper, and would have almost surely been a first-round pick had he decided to head to the next level.
McDonald’s father, Tim, was a two-time All-American at USC before spending 13 years in the NFL. The elder McDonald was a six-time Pro Bowler and was a member of the San Francisco 49ers when they won Super Bowl XXIX.
The younger McDonald had the following to say about USC and his time at the school:
“USC has been a powerful place for my family and it has been part of my entire life.
“I came to USC at a unique time, when we were on probation, and a bowl ban, and nobody on my team was part of the reason for that bowl ban. We took it on full force and now we are on the way back to the greatness of USC.”
“Being a captain of this team and part of that greatness, we have an opportunity to do something great. That opportunity doesn’t come around very often. I want to finish things out and be a part of something great. So I am returning to USC for my senior season.”
The news that McDonald will return is welcome by USC’s players, coaches and fans as the Trojans will now return their entire starting back seven on defense. If Barkley decides to return the wealth of talent coming back on offense should make Lane Kiffin’s squad an automatic national title contender in 2012.
Getting McDonald back was the first piece of that puzzle.