Victor Blackwell was not pleased with being surpassed on the depth chart by freshmen JuJu Smith, Adoree' Jackson and Ajene Harris. So he decided to skip practice.
That was more than two weeks ago, according to USC head coach Steve Sarkisian, who said he hasn't seen or heard from Blackwell. Upset with his playing time, Blackwell skipped practice and hasn't looked back apparently.
"He’s trying to decide personally what to do," Sarkisian said after practice last week. "He’s frustrated with his playing time and we’re a little frustrated with his commitment to the program."
The redshirt junior from Mater Dei HS caught three passes for 54 yards in the blowout of Fresno State to open the season, but Victor Blackwell has not played since. With USC running the ball against Stanford, there weren't as many opportunities. Against Boston College, the Trojans stuck with their primary players as they tried to overcome a late deficit.
Following the Boston College loss, Blackwell did not return to practice. Sarkisian talked with Blackwell's parents for 20 minutes after last Wednesday's practice, but the forgotten Trojan receiver hasn't been seen.
On Tuesday, when Steve Sarkisian was asked if Blackwell's status was in limbo, Sarkisian said,"There is not even a limbo to be in. We haven't seen him in two weeks."
But Sarkisian didn't say Victor Blackwell was off the team: "We’ll have to see. Whenever he wants to decide to come and meet with me, then we’ll talk about it."
Maybe Sarkisian has a Remember the Titans' Herman Boone rule that he won't kick players off the team. Or maybe he just realizes the Trojans are dipping into the 50s on available bodies every Saturday and even backup receivers have a potential use on special teams or elsewhere when you continue to run into depth issues.
Blackwell is a solid receiver. He's just at the wrong school. If Blackwell chose to go to Utah, he'd have a good shot at starting right now. However, Blackwell came to USC in the same class as the No. 1 receiver recruit in the nation, George Farmer, and Farmer's teammate Marqise Lee, who was drafted in the second round of the 2014 NFL Draft.
This was following the 2010 recruiting class that featured three five-star wide receivers, including future NFL second rounder Robert Woods. In 2012, USC added another five-star talent in Nelson Agholor and the big body four-star, Darreus Rogers. Former four-star receiver De'Von Flournoy was also still on the roster last season.
WIth Farmer returning from injury this season, when USC added the two-way talents of JuJu Smith and Adoree' Jackson in this year's recruiting class, the writing was on the wall if either ended up being on the offensive side. Smith has been there permanently and Jackson was above Blackwell when he was on the offensive side of the ball.
If Victor Blackwell were a slot receiver, he would have had a better opportunity to get playing time this season. Steven Mitchell had been slow to return from a knee injury and Ajene Harris being a freshman transitioning from quarterback left the position open for the taking. But that's not Blackwell's position and Harris blossomed to be one of the Fall Camp studs.
Blackwell has played well when given opportunities, such as the Fresno State showing when he showed some elusiveness with yards after the catch or in the 2013 Spring Game when he caught seven passes for 155 yards and a touchdown. In this year's Spring Game, Blackwell was the second-leading receiver with two catches for 51 yards.
Will we see Victor Blackwell back in a USC Trojans' uniform? Don't count on it. Once you go MIA, you usually don't come back.