Key Returners: Nelson Agohlor (Jr.), Darreus Rogers (So.), George Farmer (Redshirt Jr.), Victor Blackwell (Redshirt Jr.), Steven Mitchell (Redshirt Fr.)
Key Losses: Marqise Lee (NFL)
Potential Additions: Adoree' Jackson (Fr.), Juju Smith (Fr.)
The star of the USC receivers is undoubtedly Nelson Agohlor. As a freshman two years ago, Agholor showed flashes of explosive speed and play-making ability while waiting behind Trojan legends Robert Woods and Marqise Lee. Last season, playing alongside the now Jacksonville Jaguars receiver Agohlor led the team in both receiving yards and touchdowns. Now as a junior Agohlor will be the focal point of the Trojans aerial attack.
Although the speedster’s talent is unquestioned, it will be interesting to see how he fairs facing increased attention from opposing defenses. This fact alone makes it essential that another threat emerge from the assortment of former top high school recruits USC has on the depth chart at wide receiver. After spring camp, many indications show that it could be gray-shirt sophomore Darreus Rogers.
As a big and physical receiver with good hands, Rogers style of play would be a perfect compliment opposite the deep threat of Agohlor. It will be interesting to see what the Trojans can get out of oft-injured duo of George Farmer and Victor Blackwell, both of whom came to the school as highly sought after recruits yet injuries have derailed their careers to this point. There will be plenty of opportunities to catch the rock this season, and these threats will either sink or swim.
It will be important for either Farmer or Blackwell can develop into the player they were projected to be to help take the pressure off Agohlor and the running game. The most inexperienced returning wideout is redshirt freshman Steven Mitchell. After tearing his ACL last season, the speedy, former ESPN 150 recruit will look to break into the rotation
Rounding out the cream of the crop in USC's receiving corp are incoming freshman Adoree' Jackson and Juju Smith. While it hasn’t been determined whether they will play receiver of defensive back, both players have the potential to come in and make an impact as true freshman. Jackson’s highlight tape from high school shows that he has De’Anthony Thomas-like speed and game breaking ability. A dynamo with the ball, Jackson could provide instant impact on offense, but a lack of depth at corner could see him start his Trojans career on the defensive side of the ball.
In Smith, the Trojans have a player who might not be as fast as Jackson. But with his physical tools, 6’2’’ and 200 pounds, Smith has an effective blend of size and explosiveness that makes him very tough to cover over the middle.
While some might be quick to assume that the USC receivers will be worse after losing a talent like Marqise Lee, all signs point to Agohlor being more than capable of filling that void. With former top recruits Rogers, Blackwell, Farmer and Mitchell all vying for playing time behind him, the Trojans will have more depth at receiver than last season.
If Smith and Jackson play offense USC could run seven high-school All-Americans deep at wideout. Regardless, depth and recruiting rankings don’t matter if they do not capitalize on their potential.
For the Trojan pass catchers to improve from last year there must be a breakout performer and according to Cody Kessler, that could be George Farmer: "He can straight fly… for him to be able to move that fast for how big he is. I mean he’s over 200 pounds… he’s going to surprise some people." If indeed Farmer does breakout this season, the USC receiving corps will be a tough matchup for any secondary.