With fall camp slated to begin Monday, we'll be examining a few lingering storylines the Trojans must sort out as they begin preparations for the upcoming 2012 season. In part three of five, we take a closer look at the No. 3 wide receiver position.
There probably won't be a more fun position battle to watch during fall camp than the race to become USC's No. 3 wide receiver. Just in terms of excitement, you know the "wow" moments with a leaping catch here or a diving grab there, this should be particularly captivating over the coming weeks. There are young players such as incoming freshman Nelson Agholor and sophomore George Farmer. Then, there are more seasoned returners such as De'Von Flournoy. Grab some popcorn. There are several different directions the coaching staff can go in. It's, as they often say, wide open.
So it's clear, though, there really isn't a technical No. 3 wide receiver to begin with.There's a split end, which is Marqise Lee. There is a flanker, which is Robert Woods. Both have backups, according to the spring depth chart. Farmer is behind Lee. Flournoy is behind Woods. Still, someone should eventually emerge as the third option behind Lee and Woods in terms of snaps. And since Lane Kiffin and Co. have a few directions they can go in, I thought I'd break it down candidate by candidate. The production of Lee and Woods has been well-documented this offseason, so here's who's next in line (in alphabetical order).
Agholor: One of the benefits of the arrival of Silas Redd is that it allows Agholor to play wideout, the position most schools recruited him out of Berkeley Prep in Tampa last winter. Kiffin pointed out during Pac-12 Media Day that he'd open camp at wide receiver but that could very well change now with the addition of Redd, and it's probably for the best. As explosive as he is, his natural position is at wide receiver and the staff is probably better off slotting him there
Victor Blackwell: The Mater Dei product redshirted last fall, motivated in part to help shore up depth in preparation for the sanctioned-recruiting classes of 2012, 2013 and 2014. He's a little behind Flournoy in terms of development, more inexperienced, etc. And in terms of big play ability, he isn't on the same level with Agholor or Farmer. With that said, I've always felt he runs good, solid routes and catches rather well. A reliable
Farmer: For whatever reason, the Serra product hasn't really gotten going. He's had injuries (a strained hamstring during the spring) and a switch to tailback in the fall. But now, he's healthy and back at wide receiver. He'll need to be consistent as a blocker, but in terms of explosiveness, he's arguably as good as anyone in that category on 'SC's roster. USC will likely do everything it can to get him on the field and win this "battle," so to speak.
Flournoy: If we're being honest, the fourth-year junior's résumé isn't all that impressive. He's appeared in a total of just 10 games and hasn't logged one reception thus far in his career. Of course, he recognizes that. The adjustment has taken longer, much longer than anticipated. But if USC wants to plug another Brandon Carswell into the lineup, Flournoy might very well be its best bet. He was arguably the biggest surprise of the spring, the team's most productive wideout with Lee and Woods missing most workouts -- Lee with track and Woods because of an ankle injury -- and he's reliable and a good blocker. Certainly gives the staff the option of going in the Carswell-like direction and perhaps even more so than Blackwell.
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