Safety Taylor Mays became the first USC player selected in the 2010 NFL draft when the San Francisco 49ers picked him in the second round with the 49th overall pick. Mays was projected by most as top-15 pick following his junior season, but he chose to return for his senior year with a stated goal of becoming the No. 1 overall pick in the draft.
That didn't quite work out for him. Now, the 6-foot-3, 235-pounder enters into an interesting situation in San Francisco, where the 49ers already boast two (somewhat) solid starters at safety. Mays will surely be compared often to former Trojan and 49er safety Ronnie Lott over the next few months, but Mays has some work to do before he even reaches the starting 11 in San Francisco.
If ex-USC coach Pete Carroll had a protege during his final few years with the Trojans, it was Mays. But when Carroll had the opportunity to take him at the No. 14 spot in the first round, he passed and chose Texas safety Earl Thomas instead.
Mays sounded off on that decision today.
"It was interesting," Mays told the San Francisco media following his selection. "I thought from the relationship that we have, the things he had told me about, what I needed to be aware of through the draft process, things I needed to do, I felt like he told me the complete opposite of the actions that he took, which was alarming."
Carroll praised Mays' decision to return for another season last year and incessantly praised Mays throughout last season.
It seems Mays also took issue with what the Seahawks coach told him in private.
"I understand it's a business, but with it being a business, you have to be honest," Mays said. "That's all I was asking for."
Carroll was asked about the thinking behind choosing Thomas over Mays. He told reporters Thomas' abilities were too tempting to take the known quantity in Mays.
"We thought he was the best guy in the draft at doing that kind of stuff," Carroll said. "So he was unique, but the other side of it is, yeah I love Taylor Mays and everything that he stands for and all that.
"Unfortunately, it didn't work out.''
The two will match up twice a year in the NFC West, including Week 1 in Seattle.