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Why this star USC receiver won’t be playing against BYU

Southern California wide receiver Drake London goes down with an injury in the end zone after scoring a touchdown.
Southern California wide receiver Drake London goes down with an injury in the end zone after scoring a touchdown during the first half of an NCAA college football game against Arizona Saturday, Oct. 30, 2021, in Los Angeles.
Marcio Jose Sanche, Associated Press

When BYU plays at USC on Nov. 27 — its the Cougars’ fifth and final Pac-12 opponent of the season — the Trojans will be minus one of their stars.

Junior wide receiver Drake London will miss the rest of the season after fracturing his right ankle Saturday in USC’s 41-34 win over Arizona, Trojans interim coach Donte Williams confirmed Sunday, according to ESPN.

“In those eight games he played, all the awards you can think of he deserves, whether it’s the Biletnikoff, whether it’s first-team All-American. The things he did for this team and this university, he was about to put up one of the best statistical seasons any receiver has ever put up in college football, and that’s saying a lot,” Williams said, per ESPN.

“At the same time, yes, we’re going to miss him as a player, but the things that people forget about is who he is as a person to this team. He’s a team captain for a reason.”

How Drake London was injured

London was hurt on a play where he scored on a 6-yard pass during the second quarter. He caught a pass from quarterback Jaxson Dart, who prepped at Roy High and Corner Canyon in Utah, and was hit by Arizona’s Christian Roland-Wallace as he crossed the goal line. He stayed down and had his right leg put in an air cast before being carted off the field.

The talented wideout finished the year with 88 receptions for 1,084 yards and seven touchdowns in eight games, including nine catches for 81 yards and two touchdowns on Saturday. He’s one of just three wide receivers at the FBS level to have more than 1,000 receiving yards through the first nine weeks of the 2021 season.

London one of the nation’s top draft prospects

The 6-foot-5, 210-pound London is projected as a 2022 first-round NFL draft pick. ESPN’s Mel Kiper Jr. recently rated London the No. 4 prospect overall in the 2022 NFL draft class.

“London, who played on the USC basketball team in 2019-20, towers over Pac-12 defenders, and he can outleap just about any corner,” Kiper wrote of London. “… I’ve noticed a few drops this season — he has five after just one the previous two seasons — but he does have soft hands and a huge catch radius. London is fun to watch.”

What his absence will mean

His absence will be felt for a USC program that’s gone just 4-4 on the year and saw coach Clay Helton fired back in September. London has accounted for nearly 43% of the Trojans’ receiving yards this season, with no other USC receiver over 400 receiving yards so far in 2021.

BYU has already faced three of the country’s top 12 receivers this season — Utah State’s Deven Thompkins is second nationally with 1,099 receiving yards (with 63 receptions and six touchdowns), Virginia’s Dontayvion Wicks is fifth nationally with 972 receiving yards (with 42 receptions and nine touchdowns) and Boise State’s Khalil Shakir is 12th nationally with 777 receiving yards (with 49 receptions and four touchdowns).

Thompkins had nine receptions for 125 yards and a touchdown against BYU, while Wicks had four receptions for 125 yards and a touchdown, both in losing efforts. Shakir had five receptions for 66 yards in a Boise State win over the Cougars.

Now, London will miss his chance to add to his already impressive 2021 season, while the Cougars avoid facing yet another top wide receiver.