Role Review: Wide Receivers

All week long SCPlaybook will review each Trojan position group--a recap of their respective performance in 2011, what's expected in the offseason and what's to come in terms of recruiting. Now examining USC's wide receiving core...

To contrast the indefinite chatter about juniors leaving early for the NFL, it seems worth noting that USC's wide receivers aren't going anywhere.

Well, at least for one more year.

Sure Brandon Carswell, the consistent senior who was used sparingly, but purposefully, will graduate.

But Robert Woods and Marqise Lee, USC's two starting wide receivers that combined for 26 of Matt Barkley's 39 touchdown passes in 2011, will be Trojan mainstays.

Lee, a freshman All-American and Pac-12 Freshman Player of the Year, has at least two more seasons of breaking the Trojans' record books.

I could go on about Lee. But his statistics, awards and eternally upbeat demeanor plus an unrelenting tenacity pretty much speak for itself. He's that good.

In what is likely to be Woods' final season, he will be on the campaign trail. After being snubbed for the hallowed Biletnikoff Award this December, passed over for Oklahoma State junior Justin Blackmon, Woods will be hunting for something shiny next fall. A BCS crystal ball, the Heisman trophy -- all of college football's best awards -- are within grasp of Woods next season. Boasting a Twitter handle of "HeismanWoods," the wide receiver has a will and determination that few share.

And despite putting up gaudy numbers like his 1, 819 all purpose yards and 15 touchdowns, Woods said he wants to improve in the offseason.

As if his upside wasn't steep already, USC's coaching staff has estimated Woods health at 80 percent in 2011, and his head coach said Woods plans to get offseason surgery on his ankle.

Ted Gilmore, named the 2011 FootballScoop Wide Receivers Coach of the Year by SpeedTracs, doesn't just have one of the best wide receiver duos in the country. He has the best.

What about the others, though? It's wintertime and we're leaving Kyle Prater, Brice Butler, De'Von Flournoy, Victor Blackwell and even George Farmer out in the cold.

Seems as though the rest of USC's receiving core is rather unpredictable, as apparent in their production in 2011. The only non-receiver to catch a touchdown for the Trojans was Carswell, who had 153 receiving yards through 12 games.

Next fall, prized five-star recruit Kyle Prater will enter his sophomore season. After coming into USC with enormous hype, the 6'5 Chicago native has been plagued by injury concerns. He has admitted his time with the Trojans has been filled with struggle, but if Prater can find a way to stay consistent there is a great possibility he can become USC's third weapon.

Phew. I'm out of breath. But wait, there's more.

Butler will enter his senior season, and the near-transfer last spring has one last chance to showcase his abilities for prospective NFL teams. Kiffin has tried to give Butler more opportunity in 2011 and it's likely the head coach will draw up similar plays specific for Butler next season, especially when Lee or Woods are fending off double coverage.

I think Blackwell, who redshirted in 2011, will get in a few plays, but I see 2013 being the year he really emerges. I don't know if Flournoy will be utilized much, other than in practices.

The Trojans plan to bring in one more receiver in Carson (Calif.) Darreus Rogers. The four-star commit has offers from Oregon, Miami and Washington, among others, but seems strongly committed to USC. While he might not make an impact right away given USC's current lineup, expect big things from Rogers in the future. Many scouts and coaches have said he is a very skilled player.


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