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Should they stay or should they go?

I wrote this last night but Signal to Noise has better write up on Taylor Mays below. - Paragon

Is it me or are we hearing the annual drumbeat of who's looking at the NFL a little early this season? There are a couple of things in the weekend papers that jump right out at you that to me seem a bit premature.

We heard earlier this season it was reported that Mark Sanchez's dad and older brother spoke to an NFL consultant about Sanchez's prospects in the NFL. I thought this was a bit premature as Sanchez in his first year as a starter hadn't really shown us much consistency up to that point. Two great performances against UVA and tOSU were then followed by some average performances with the coaching staff basically keeping Sanchez on a short leash for the remainder of the season.

Sanchez had a pretty good season as it turns out but the ucla game might have shown us one thing about Sanchez that, if he stays, USC should run with...let him play! We all know that Sanchez is tough and we know he has that gunslinger mentality but when he's on he can be lights out and he won't be denied. If he stays I think next season they need to just cut him loose and let him do his thing. Sure he will throw some stupid picks and he will have some bad games but to me the positives outweigh the negatives, so they should just let him play.

I saw on Wolf's blog last week where an NFL Scout thought that Sanchez should come out now...

Here's what else our NFL scout said on Mark Sanchez.

``I think he should come out now. How much better will he get in a year? He should turn pro and be a backup next year with an NFL team. It would be better preparation for him.''

Well that's from a business perspective. It was only 4 short years ago that Matt Leinart was in a better situation than Sanchez and he decided to stay. He wanted to have fun and hang out with his buddies for one more year and make a run at another MNC.

Bisheff makes the argument going the other way...

It comes down to this: Do you want to spend 2009 standing on the sideline holding a clipboard, or crouched over center, having the time of your life as a senior quarterback competing for another BCS bowl berth and a Heisman Trophy?

It is an easy decision. The truth is, as gifted as Sanchez appears to be, he is hardly a finished product. His supportive dad, Nick, who attends practice every day will tell him. Mark needs to play more games and to polish his already impressive skills. Another year at USC and he'll be better at reading defenses and delivering passes at the proper time and dealing with pressure. Most of all, he will be much more confident and prepared.

Most of all, Sanchez is having fun. Few college quarterbacks in recent years exude the joy of playing football the way he does. It's been his dream and the fact he had to wait a year or two longer to finally reach it has only made it sweeter once he got there.

If he stays another year, he shouldn't have to endure the sometimes strange, conservative leanings the coaching staff displayed this season. Equipped with the finest defense in the country and maybe one of the best of all time, Pete Carroll and Steve Sarkisian put the clamps on Sanchez for a couple of games, playing not to lose on offense.

Happily, they won't have that luxury next year. Most of that great defense will be gone, and the Trojans will have to be carried by Sanchez and an offense that returns nine starters.

Sanchez is a competitor and you know with the Defense looking completely different next season it will fall on him to lead this team. He had the luxury of a dominant defense to bail him out, he won't have that next season so he needs to grow and make smart plays.

I understand that he is going to get the evaluation from the NFL and I thinks that is OK, the most important commodity in the world is information...

Taylor Mays is another player looking at the NFL. I don't think that is a real surprise to anyone and if you ask me he I think he is as good as gone.

As Mays concludes his junior year, there is less for him to accomplish, and he appears headed toward an early entry in the NFL draft.

"If I'm up there (in the top 15), I think even (Trojans coach Pete Carroll) will tell me to leave," Mays said.

Unlike most underclassmen who pretend to focus only on college, Mays admitted he frequently imagines playing in the NFL next season.

"Yeah, I think about that," Mays said. "It might get to me, but I need to stay focused. If I let it get to my head, it could mess me up and be a negative. But I'm a positive person."

He even talks about the possibility that he played his last game at Coliseum two weeks ago against Notre Dame.

"If that ended being up my last game, it was special," he said.

Short of winning an MNC Mays has pretty accomplished all he can in the college game. The leadership that Mays could provide as a senior would be incredible and invaluable. He could do for the young safeties coming in what Kevin Ellison did for Mays. I would love for him to stay but I just don't see what he has to gain so I am pretty sure he is gone.

The real surprise is Stafon Johnson is thinking about going pro.

USC junior tailback Stafon Johnson said Saturday he might turn pro but will wait until next month before he makes a final decision.

"I'm not sure. I haven't thought about it. But if everything sounds convincing, maybe," Johnson said. "If I would come out this year, I'd be confident enough."

Johnson did not start a game this season, but leads the Trojans with 123 carries and has the second-most yards (642). He applied for an early evaluation with the NFL to judge his draft status.

Johnson said the fact he split time with tailbacks Joe McKnight and C.J. Gable did not mean he needed more experience before playing in the NFL.

"The playing time I got this year was instrumental as far as my maturing," Johnson said.

Johnson said even if he is told he would be a first-round pick, that might not be enough for him to leave USC.

"They probably would have to tell me I'd be a lock in the top 15," Johnson said. "I know I'm not right now, so I'd say it's slim to none (that I'd leave). People tell me right now I'd be in the first three rounds. I want to stay though and win the big one, the BCS championship."

I really don't know what to think here. There is no question that Stafon has some talent and we have enjoyed watching him break some big runs but I am not sure that those would translate into a top 15 pick let alone the first round. SC has some issues at RB with McKnight, Gable and Johnson in prominent roles. Allen Bradford will be back in the mix once his hip heals (provided he doesn't transfer and that is doubtfull at this point) and Marc Tyler looks like he is the real deal. Tyler is the future. Gable to me is the wild card as he has been the most vocal with his disappointment about the running back rotation and the whole situation after his fumble against ucla probably put strain on his continued frustration. I am not even going to try to read into that.

USC is going to lose nine players on defense and on offense Patrick Turner graduates (Byers still doens't have word on a 6th year of eligibility) leaving most of the offense intact. There are always possibilities of transfers like we saw with Hazelton and Green so SC is going to have to some work to do without having to worry about these three top players leaving early.

Hard to say in regards to Sanchez and Johnson but I really think Mays is gone.

It will be interesting to say the least...