USC junior cornerback Nickell Robey has confirmed that he will leave school early in order to enter the 2013 NFL draft, according to a report in the Los Angeles Times.
“It’s a business decision, like any other important decision I’ve made my whole life,” Robey told the Times. “It’s the best thing for my family and for me.”
Robey was a three-year starter for the Trojans with his best season coming in 2011, when he had 63 tackles, nine pass deflections and two interceptions. One of those interceptions was a memorable return for a touchdown late in the game against Stanford which put USC ahead at the time. Robey was named first-team All Pac-12 that season.
Robey came to USC after originally getting to know Lane and Monte Kiffin during a camp at the University of Tennessee. Robey, a Frostproof, Fla., native, developed a instant rapport with the elder Kiffin, who the Robey family knew of from his days with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
The original plan was for Robey to join the Kiffins at Tennessee, but when they made the switch to USC, so did Robey. Unfortunately, Robey’s mother passed away shortly after national signing day in 2010, and his father had sporadic contact with the family after that.
Robey made the decision to stick with his college choice and left behind a younger sister to be cared for by other family members. When he arrived on campus he immediately declared to teammates and coaches that he wanted to be a model of doing things the Trojan Way. He won everyone over with an engaging personality, a strong work ethic and surprising athleticism and made the starting lineup by the season opener against Hawaii. It was the first time a true freshman had started a season opener at corner for USC in the modern era.
Things didn’t go well for Robey in that opening game and there were a lot of questions from USC fans about the new 5-foot-8, 165-pound corner. However, his play steadily improved as the season went along and he ended the season with 48 tackles and a team-high four interceptions while being named All-Pac-10 honorable mention.
By the time his junior season rolled around, Robey was established as a leader of the team and was named a captain for a 2012 USC team that entered the season with high expectations. Robey finished the season with 52 tackles and one interception while being named All-Pac-12 second team.
Robey had always been pretty clear that he would consider leaving school early in large part to care for his sister, but when his pre-draft evaluation came back stating that he was not expected to be selected in the first three rounds there was a thought that he could end up returning for his final season.
“They can make a lot of predictions but nothing is guaranteed,” Robey told the Times. “This is an opportunity. Nothing is guaranteed to anybody.”