Coming into the 2013-2014 season, the Trojans wide receiving corps is one of the strongest in the Pac-12, thanks to some star-studded athletes at the top of the rotation.
The defending Biletnikoff winner Marqise Lee will draw all the attention from defenders. That being said, the next crop of wideouts each bring a unique set of skills to the position.
As part of our week-long series we take a look at some of the key position battles and injury concerns heading into camp. This time around, we focus our efforts on the men catching the football for big gains, highlight moments and hopefully plenty of scores.
Wide Receivers of Troy- Returning Starters: Junior Marqise Lee
KIFFIN THOUGHTS: “We have the best player in the country in Marqise Lee and we will continue to take advantage of his skills. But we also lost one of the best receivers in college football history in Robert Woods.”
Quick 2012 Recap: A unanimous All-American first team selection, Lee won USC’s first-ever Biletnikoff Award last fall and finished fourth in the Heisman Trophy voting.
The 2012 Pac-12 Offensive Player of the Year owns or shares 22 USC records, including most receptions (118) in a season, most receiving yards in a season (1,721) and most receiving yards in one game (345), setting league marks.
TRIO OF IMPACT PLAYERS:
In terms of filling the 252-career receptions and 32 touchdowns left in the wake of Robert Woods departure, Marqise Lee summed it up best just a week into Fall Camp.
“We’ve got De’Von Flournoy, Victor Blackwell, numerous amount of receivers that are able to step up and handle the business they need to handle. I feel it’s just the same,” said Lee at Pac-12 Media Day.
Sophomore Nelson Agholor: (19 receptions, 340 yards, 17.9 average, 2 TD in 2012, plus 5 KOR, 121 yards, and 4 tackles) He made the 2012 Scout.com Freshman All-American Second Team, following a breakout six-catch, 162-yard performance against Oregon, including a 72-yard touchdown reception from Matt Barkley.
This season should be even better for the Biletnikoff Preseason Watch List recipient as he becomes a major facet of the offense. In a sign of good things to come, Agholor caught a 44-yard touchdown from Browne and a 1-yard score from Kessler in the USC Spring Game.
Senior De’Von Flournoy: (1 reception, 21 yards, 21.0 avg in 2012) Flournoy appeared in 10 games (all but Oregon, UCLA, Notre Dame) in 2012 and made his one catch of the season memorable, snatching a 21-yard reception against Colorado.
The Studio City native holds Los Angeles close to his heart, and will definitely be able to showcase his outstanding speed and agility on the Coliseum grass this fall. While fighting a slight hand injury this summer, Flournoy has made some fantastic catches in practice. The fifth-year senior will certainly have to earn his reps in the Trojans loaded WR core.
Sophomore Victor Blackwell:(1 reception, 9 yards, 9.0 average in 2012) The future looks extremely bright for Blackwell, especially given his growth under WR coach Tee Martin.
His best work can be summed up with an outstanding seven-catch effort during the Spring Game for a team-high 155 yards.
Listed at 6-foot-1, 190 pounds, Blackwell doesn’t have blazing speed but has the tools to be a solid receiver especially given his high school connection with quarterback Max Wittek.
Since the season-ending injury to George Farmer earlier this spring, (the high school teammate of Lee and Woods), Blackwell has entered the conversation as a legitimate number three option.
FRESH FACES: Darreus Rogers (Carson High School, participated in spring practice after being academically ineligible for 2012 Season), and Steven Mitchell (Bishop Alemany) have four-star tools that will certainly be utilized down the road.
Rogers catches the ball at its highest point with the best on the team, and has shown a tenacity that rival former Trojan Steve Smith. Mitchell will sit out the entire season with a knee injury but don’t count out the four-star recruit in the coming years.
WALK ONS WORTH WATCHING:
George Katrib 6-1 180 Diamond Bar, Calif. (Diamond Bar HS) Redshirt Sophomore
Katrib made 2011 All-CIF Southeast Division first team, San Gabriel Valley Tribune All-San Gabriel Valley first team and All-Hacienda League first team as a senior wide receiver and defensive back at Diamond Bar (Calif.) High. He will be a reserve walk-on WR for Troy.
Robby Kolanz 5-11 175 Palos Verdes Estates, Calif. (Palos Verdes) Redshirt Freshmen
Kolanz made 2011 All-CIF Northern Division first team, South Bay Daily Breeze All-South Bay first team and All-Bay League first team as a senior wide receiver and defensive back at Palos Verdes High in Palos Verdes Estates. Just a fun note, his grandfather Stan Chambers was a a television reporter who spent 63 years at KTLA before retiring in 2010.
Cody Skene 5-9 165 Oak Park (Moorpark JC) Redshirt Senior
Skene is a two-year reserve walk-on wide receiver for the Trojans who continues to work hard on the practice squad. The journey to even make the team has been grueling for the Oak Park native, being cut and then reinstated by Lane Kiffin back in 2011. As one of the smallest players on the field, Skene’s grit is appreciated by his peers on a daily basis.
Christian Tober 5-9 175 San Clemente, Ca. (San Clemente HS) Sophomore
Tober notches the most prolific resume of the Trojans walk on wide receivers and knows a thing or two about working his way through the ranks of Troy. The 2011 Cal-Hi Sports All-State second team, All-CIF Pac-5 Division first team, Orange Country Register All-Orange County first team, All-South Coast League first team and Special Teams Player of the Year is the younger brother of similar walk-on success cornerback William Tober.