Despite the horrific season the USC Trojans football team had last year, there was one shining star in that locker room.
You guessed correctly—Marqise Lee. Lee finished the season with 118 receptions, 1,721 yards and 14 touchdowns on his way to winning the Fred Biletnikoff Award—an award given to the best college wide receiver.
However, Lee’s success on the field wasn’t enough for the ultimate success of the football team. Luckily for USC fans, Lee, who will be a junior next year, still has another year before he is eligible for the NFL Draft. Robert Woods, who had a breakout season in 2011, finished the 2012 season with 76 receptions, 846 yards and 11 touchdowns.
Now, with Woods gone to the NFL to play for the Buffalo Bills, Lee is the main star in the Wide Receiver depth chart for the Trojans. With a lack of depth in the position last season, Woods and Lee were the main options for Lane Kiffin. As the season went on, freshman wide receiver Nelson Agholor introduced himself to USC fans with his speed and ability to catch the football. Although he didn’t have big numbers like Woods or Lee, it became evident that Agholor was a rising star.
With the 2013 season approaching, it’s clear that Lee and Agholor will be the starting wide receivers for the men of Troy. Sounds like everything is fine right? Wrong. Last season, Woods and Lee accounted for 68% of the team’s receptions. One reason for that is because Kiffin favored a majority of the passes going to those two receivers, especially Lee. However, the other main reason is because of the lack of depth in the receiving corps.
Well, last year’s problem hasn’t been fixed. This past Saturday, USC confirmed that freshman receiver Steven Mitchell would miss the upcoming season after tearing his ACL. But Mitchell wasn’t the only wide receiver who suffered a season-ending injury this off-season. Junior wide receiver George Farmer also suffered a knee injury which will cause him to miss the entire season. Steven Mitchell was a 4-star recruit, who was ranked #9 in his position according to Scout.com. He was expected to be a slot receiver and provide speed alongside Lee and Agholor.
The loss of Farmer and Mitchell is significant for the Trojans and leaves them with only three other scholarship receivers: freshman Darreus Rogers, redshirt senior De’Von Flourney and junior Victor Blackwell.
Like Mitchell, Rogers was a 4-star recruit and ranked #10 in his position behind Mitchell in the Scout.com rankings. Blackwell is another 4-star recruit and skilled wide receiver who hasn’t really had the opportunity to show us his skills on the field. In his career at USC, he’s only had 1 reception for 9 yards. Just like the other receivers I’ve already mentioned, Flourney is another 4-star recruit that never really got the chance. Entering his 5th year with the Trojans, Flourney has only 1 reception for 21 yards.
The saying goes when one door closes, a window opens. Thus far this year, 2 doors have closed in the Trojans’ wide receiver corps and there’s a chance for 3 scholarship receivers to get a chance and be a part of the rotation. For Blackwell and Flourney this might be a golden opportunity to shine and show NFL teams that they’re worth a shot on their rosters. But before we get too far, let’s find out who will shine from this group of 3 and make a difference for the Trojans.
Any prediction I make will be a bold prediction because the Trojans have not named a starting quarterback yet and it’s hard to tell which receiver is comfortable with which quarterback. I believe once we know who the starting QB is for the Trojans, it’ll be easier to predict who will be the slot receiver alongside Lee and Agholor. My gut feeling tells me that Blackwell will emerge as the frontrunner in this group, but I believe Rogers will also have a chance to shine and emerge just like Agholor did in his freshmen year this past season alongside Woods and Lee. Everyone is excited to find out who the #1 Quarterback will be for the Trojans this season, but pay close attention to competition in the Wide Receiver position to find out who will reign supreme.