Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports
The USC Trojans featured one of the most dynamic duos in the Pac-12 conference last season with high school and college teammates, Robert Woods and Marqise Lee dominating the offensive landscape. The tandem combined for 194 receptions, 25 touchdowns along with plenty of highlight grabs in their final season together. Thanks to their outstanding talents and highly coveted play-making abilities, the Serra graduates became the only legitimate options for the Trojans, sometimes even to the detriment of the diversity of the passing offense.
Woods captivated audiences with sensational highlight moments throughout his three-year career, setting Trojan single-season reception marks in 2011 (Broken by Lee in 2012) while playing through an injury plagued campaign. With the Trojan’s elder statesman taking his talents to the NFL with the Buffalo Bills, a major void sits on the opposite side of the field alongside Team Lee.
In comes the trio of Nelson Agholor, De’Von Flournoy and Victor Blackwell as the Trojans best expected contributors entering Fall Camp. Throughout summer conditioning and early in the Fall Camp swing of things, all three receivers look prime to make a serious impact.
For the Trojans options outside, it all begins with big-play threat and four-star recruit from 2012, Nelson Agholor.
“I think I can look over and look at him being Rob[ert Woods]; he does an amazing job in class, both on and off the field,” said Marqise Lee of his teammate. “We’ve got De’Von Flourney, Victor Blackwell, numerous amount of receivers that are able to step up and handle the business they need to handle.”
Coming off a breakout second half of the season, including a six-catch, 162-yard performance against Oregon, Agholor has showcased some major attributes at the highest level, and early on in the Fall Camp grind, his ball-catching skills and jet-like quickness garnered him a majority of the chances.
Apr 13, 2013; Los Angeles, CA, USA; Southern California Trojans receiver Nelson Agholor (15) celebrates with guard John Martinez (59) after a touchdown reception during the spring game at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports
Agholor has been targeted by all three quarterbacks in amongst the Trojans quick-hitting scheme, as the team emphasizes the short and intermediate passing game in the opening weekend of Fall Camp.
What makes Agholor special is his ability to make plays on the run, in a very similar fashion to Lee. He uses his break-away speed and elusiveness to avoid the big hit while working up the sideline with authority.
With four-star high school recruit Steven Mitchell (Bishop Alemany) out for the season due to injury, help by way of the freshmen variety shifts to a well-known commodity who is finally getting his chance to shine in the Trojans receiving corp.
That man is rock-solid receiver Darreus Rogers (Carson High), who originally signed with USC in February 2012 but did not enroll until this past spring semester and participated in spring drills.
“I was saying it from the start, but a guy like that is a true X receiver, and can make all the catches for us,” said quarterback Max Wittek who continually praised Rogers strong hands.
Flournoy and Blackwell have equally exciting expectations entering this upcoming season. The Trojans have spent a good portion of their early practice shuffling with an emphasis for the power running-game and the resultant play-action attack, an option both threats are embracing.
Both targets are starting to gain some major cred as Cody Kessler found Flournoy for an early touchdown grab. While Max Wittek showcased his power arm, he sliced in an over-the-top touchdown dime to Blackwell by leaping over cornerback Chris Hawkins to record the grab.
This talented group of up-and-coming players will continue to capture more repetitions and resultant confidence in their game. Although not as publicized as the quarterback battle, the necessity for a strong pass-catching threat will certainly become headline-worthy when game day comes around.
“I’m going to make sure I go out there every day at camp and push them and push them and they’re going to push me and trying to make each other best in the long run we will be successful,” said Lee.