Trojans WR Jarrett will leave school early for NFL draft

LOS ANGELES -- Dwayne Jarrett, the leading receiver in school history, announced Wednesday he will skip his senior season at Southern California to enter the NFL draft.

"The biggest thing was the challenge. I'm ready to compete on the next level," Jarrett said at a campus news conference, choking up as he talked about leaving.

When he began to sob quietly, his mother, Camille, stepped to the podium and hugged him.

"My teammates, without them I couldn't have done any of this," he said.

While Jarrett is leaving USC, coach Pete Carroll again insisted that he's staying.

Asked if he had closed the door on the possibility of becoming the Miami Dolphins' coach, Carroll said, "Yeah. I thought I said that yesterday. ... I'm not wavering."

Dolphins owner Wayne Huizenga, in the market for a coach since Nick Saban left to take the Alabama job, had met with Carroll for four hours on Sunday in Costa Rica, where the coach was vacationing.

Carroll had said Huizenga spoke to him about hiring a coach who would have total control of the team, power Carroll lacked in his previous NFL coaching jobs with the New York Jets and New England Patriots.

But as he had a day earlier, Carroll said Wednesday that he has he has no intention of leaving USC.

"There's a lot of good stuff going on here now and in future times. It's important. I can't miss it," he said.

Jarrett, a 6-foot-5, 215-pounder from New Brunswick, N.J., ends his college career with 216 catches for 3,138 yards and a Pac-10-record 41 touchdowns in 38 games.

"He knows he has to leave, but he doesn't want to leave," Carroll said.

The lanky, sure-handed wide receiver capped his impressive three years at USC by making 11 receptions for 205 yards and two TDs in a 32-18 victory over Michigan in the Rose Bowl on Jan. 1.

Carroll said Jarrett finished the season with good momentum, and that he is confident he will be picked in the first round of the draft in April. The only question, the coach added, was how high he will go.

Camille Jarrett said her son intends to finish his degree in sociology at some point.

"Even when he was really young and talked about playing in college and the NFL, we always said that he was going to get his degree," she said.

Jarrett, 21, a two-time first-team All-American, caught 70 passes for 1,015 yards and 12 touchdowns this season despite missing one game and being limited in several others because of an early-season shoulder injury.

The Trojans were 11-2 this season and 36-3 during Jarrett's career, which almost ended shortly after it began because of a case of homesickness during his freshman year. But he stuck it out.

Jarrett caught 55 passes for 849 yards and 13 touchdowns as a freshman and had 91 receptions for 1,274 yards and 16 TDs as a sophomore. He broke Keary Colbert's school record of 207 receptions, and surpassed Ken Margerum's Pac-10 record of 32 TD catches early in the season.

Jarrett finished ninth in the Heisman Trophy voting, and figured to be a leading candidate as a senior had he stayed in school.

He faced a Jan. 15 deadline to declare for the draft.

Jarrett likely will be the only USC underclassman this year to leave school for the NFL. The Trojans finished No. 4 and figure to be at or near the top of the 2007 preseason rankings.

After the 2005 season, USC lost five underclassmen, including Heisman winner Reggie Bush. The previous year, 2004 Heisman winner Matt Leinart considered coming out early but decided to return for his senior season with the Trojans.