The Trojans practiced physically throughout their 15-practice spring allotment and it showed on the field… both because they were actually hitting and because there were barely enough healthy bodies able to play in the spring scrimmage.
It's a gamble right now for Kiffin, practice physically and lose guys to injury, practice soft and wind up 7-6.
Right now, it's the receiving corps taking the hardest hit. The Trojans lost junior receiver George Farmer to an ACL tear during spring practices.
Then, when taking extra reps to wrap up his first week of voluntary summer throwing sessions, freshman receiver Steven Mitchell went down, tearing ligaments in his right knee.
Both Farmer and Mitchell will be unavailable in 2013. Both were top candidates to find their way into the rotation this fall with the early departure of Robert Woods to the NFL.
Lee and Agholor, a sophomore, are locks for the two starting spots.
Right now, that No. 3 spot looks wide open. Early indications from a Trojan coach pointed to Mitchell having a real shot at winning the spot before his injury.
Now? It could be the golden opportunity Flournoy, Blackwell, and Rogers needed to get in the rotation.
Rogers, an early enrollee this spring after having to delay enrollment – once part of the 2012 recruiting class, has made a strong showing over the Trojans two weeks of voluntary players-only throwing sessions. He even has the highlight of the summer, a one handed grab in the end zone for a touchdown during the two-minute drill.
Flournoy, now a senior, appeared in ten games for the Trojans in 2012. These injuries open the door for him to be a key role player in 2013, an opportunity he looks to seize, "I'm ready to step up to whatever role the coaches put in front of me," Flournoy said after summer workouts. He has only one catch in his USC career. On the post-spring depth chart, he was listed behind Agholor.
Blackwell, now a redshirt sophomore, played in five games for the Trojans in 2012, making one catch for nine yards in the season opener against Hawaii. He closed spring listed third on the depth chart behind Lee and Rogers. Blackwell knows with only four other scholarship receivers available, there will be no better time for him to breakthrough and make an impact, "Everyone has to step up," Blackwell said. "I'm just ready to work and show the coaches that they'll be able to trust me. They'll be able to depend on me."
The Trojans open fall camp Aug. 3.