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USC's Nickell Robey is awaiting draft evaluation from NFL

Junior cornerback wants to see 'just how they see me at the next level,' but says he is leaning toward staying at USC.

December 19, 2012|By Gary Klein
  • Nickell Robey prevents Notre Dame receiver T.J. Jones from catching a pass during the Fighting Irish's victory over the Trojans, 22-13.
Nickell Robey prevents Notre Dame receiver T.J. Jones from catching a pass… (Wally Skalij / Los Angeles…)

Robert Woods isn't the only draft-eligible USC junior contemplating a possible jump to the NFL.

Junior cornerback Nickell Robey also is awaiting a draft evaluation from the league.

"I want to see how the NFL scouts look at me, just how they see me at the next level," Robey said Wednesday after the Trojans resumed practice for the Dec. 31 Sun Bowl game against Georgia Tech.

TIMELINE: College football 2012-13 bowl schedule

The 5-foot-8, 165-pound Robey, a Florida native, intercepted only one pass this season. Opponents, however, rarely tested him while exploiting the Trojans' other cornerback spot.

Robey said that he would discuss options with family members and that he was leaning toward staying at USC.

"I've been here awhile and I want to get my degree," he said. "And I want to keep going to USC and play football with these guys."

Coach Lane Kiffin said he had met with Woods and Robey, but declined to specify what he advised.

Woods has said that he would wait until after the bowl game to decide.

Kiffin does not expect the process to be a distraction as the players prepare for what could be their final game with the Trojans.

"A lot times they've kind of … made up their minds anyway," he said. "So we'll get them back and just keep talking to them and figure out their decisions."

Markowitz can explore options

Offensive lineman Abe Markowitz said he was grateful to USC for granting him a release to explore possibly playing a sixth season at one of 10 schools, among them UCLA, Stanford, Notre Dame and Washington.

Kiffin has said that there was not room for Markowitz on next season's roster, presumably because of scholarship limitations. The release allows Markowitz, who suffered foot injuries in 2010 and 2011, to have another school petition the NCAA for a sixth season on his behalf.

Markowitz, a graduate student, said he would compete for USC's track team in the spring and was hopeful that he could remain with the Trojans.

"I'm here, I'm a Trojan and I'm not in an immediate rush to go anywhere," he said.

In mourning

Quarterback Cody Kessler went through practice with a heavy heart.

On Tuesday in Bakersfield, Kessler visited with Nathan Garcia, a 13-year old boy battling brain cancer whom Kessler befriended last month. Nathan died late Tuesday night.

Kessler, who grew up in Bakersfield, aided Nathan's effort to collect toys for needy children, a drive that has resulted in about 3,000 donations.

Kessler declined to comment citing respect for Nathan's family.

Quick hits

Quarterback Matt Barkley remained absent from the practice field. Kiffin said the senior would not practice until the Trojans arrived in El Paso next week. … The Trojans' service team began running Georgia Tech's flexbone triple-option offense to give the defense a feel for what it will be seeing at the Sun Bowl. "I'm glad we have a lot of time," Kiffin said. "I don't know how people do it in one week." Walk-on tailback Robert Mojica is playing quarterback for the scout team. … Kiffin said the team would have dinner at his home Friday and receive their bowl gifts before attending a Clippers game. ... USC has conducted morning practices the last two seasons, but Kiffin is considering a possible return to an afternoon practice format.

gary.klein@latimes.com

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