Stats: 19 receptions for 340 yards, long of 76 yards, two touchdowns
What Stood Out: It took a while for Nelson Agholor to gain Lane Kiffin’s trust as the third option behind Marqise Lee and Robert Woods, even after a decent early-season in the loss to Stanford. Agholor’s coming out party came against the highly ranked Oregon Ducks, highlighted by a play in the second quarter when he deftly split two defenders deep across the middle, and then brought the catch down before darting 40-plus yards into the end zone. He went on to have six catches for 162 yards and one touchdown against the Ducks, and improved from then on, as he added his second score two weeks later at UCLA. In addition to adding depth to the Trojans’ receiving crops, Agholor proved to be valuable on special teams, as his lead blocking led to Marqise Lee’s 100-yard kickoff return in the season opener against Hawaii.
What Needed Work: Agholor wasn’t often targeted in 2012, evidenced by the fact that he had less than 20 receptions all year. With Robert Woods leaving for the NFL, Agholor will be the front runner for the second receiver role going in 2013, giving him ample time this spring to improve on his route running and blocking down field on the perimeter.
Final Word: Agholors’ effort in 2012 was one of the positives of USC’s ugly season, even if he wasn’t targeted as much as Lee and Woods. But given the minimal expectations for a freshman receiver, Agholor’s more than sufficed.