Q&A with Taylor Mays

SCPlaybook's Kevin Carden caught up with All-American safety Taylor Mays for an in-depth Q&A about his decision to return to USC in 2009. Look inside for more on USC's hard-hitting safety.

Q: Can you talk about why you decided to return to USC?

I just felt it would be the best thing for my future, and I feel like since I have been at USC, I have been in the process of maturing as a football player and a man. I feel like if I left right now I wouldn't be finishing out that process. I feel like I want to give back to this school, be here for the younger guys and try one more shot at the national championship.

Q: What has been the reaction of your teammates?

A: They thought that I was leaving. Hopefully they know that it's not about the money. I really care about them and really care about this program and winning. I'm ready to get started on this next season.

Q: Did the fact that you guys didn't win the national championship have an impact on your decision to stay?

A: It was frustrating watching Florida and Oklahoma. That made a difference. I know we lose a lot of guys but we still have a chance to reload and fire back.

Q: At any point in the process, were you leaning towards leaving for the NFL?

A: Yeah, just so I could say I was going to the league. I feel it was for the wrong reasons, but it was tough because of the temptation of having a million dollars when you are 20. I tried to make a mature decision about it and a decision that I can look back on and feel was the best decision for me and my family.

Q: Did you talk with any former players when making your decision?

A: I talked to Willie McGinest, Lawrence Jackson and Tomas Williams about what the NFL is like right now. They all told me it's a lot different once you get there and it's a lot more fun playing right now on the collegiate level. The NFL is always going to be there.

Q: Did you have a number in mind, whether it be top 5 or top 10, that if you were projected that high you would have to leave?

A: Number one! (laughter) It wasn't really about that. It wasn't about where I was going to go, it was whether or not I felt like I was ready to go.

Q: Did Rocky Seto's promotion to defensive coordinator play a role in your decision?

A: Yeah, if Coach Seto left it might have made a difference. I trust those guys and I love working with them. I know that they are going to push me like I am an incoming freshman and I look forward to it.

All-American safety Taylor Mays will lead USC's defense in 2009. (Paul Pinner Photo)

If you have any questions, comments or suggestions you can reach Kevin Carden at kevin@scplaybook.com

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