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Why did Mays return? 'College is fun'

Posted by ESPN.com's Ted Miller

There were lots of reasons for USC safety Taylor Mays to enter the NFL draft a year early. And there were some reasons for him to stay.

One of those reasons to stay occurred to Mays on Monday night.

That's when he found himself enjoying a Kappa Kappa Gamma sorority dinner.

"It made me realize that college is fun," he said. "I want to enjoy it one last year."

Mays' decision to return was surprising. A starter since his true freshman season, he'd indicated throughout his career that he was eyeballing the NFL.

He almost certainly would have been a first-round pick this spring. And when his spectacular combination of size (6-foot-3, 230 pounds) and athletic ability (he's the fastest Trojan) wowed scouts at the combine, he could have pushed himself into the top-half of the first round.

"The temptation side of it was tough," he said. "People were in my ear. And the money -- having that money right now. But I wanted to make a mature decision about it."

Mays is fortunate that he doesn't have an urgent need for money. His parents are successful business executives in Seattle.

Mays also said his decision wasn't influenced by health issues. Back when former USC quarterback Matt Leinart shocked many by opting to return for his senior season in 2005, it turned out he needed offseason surgery that would have likely hurt his draft status.

Mays said he's "very healthy."

"It's not that I don't think I'm physically ready," he said. "It's that having any doubt, I don't think that's the right way to leave school."

Mays' return is a big uptick for a Trojans defense that appeared to be rebuilding. Mays will lead an experienced secondary, and there's a lot of young talent to step in up front.

"I feel like it's more reloading," he said "We lose a lot of guys, but at the same time we've got a lot of top recruits ready to play. We just got to find our swagger."

Of course, Mays admitted life next year without his roommate and fellow health nut, All-American linebacker Brian Cushing, won't be easy.

"I miss him already," Mays said. "I'll just have to eat the healthy food by myself. I'll have to call him next summer and ask him, 'Cush, should I have this cheeseburger?' He might have to be my voice of reason from a distance."