If USC had to lose two position players from one group, wide receiver would have had to be that spot.
But junior George Farmer's Wednesday declaration that he was leaving for the NFL after an injury-limited career, joining Nelson Agholor, was still a real postseason surprise. And it has engendered the kinds of responses from USC fans that the early entry decisions of George Uko, Xavier Grimble and Dion Bailey did a year ago.
"This was a hard decision, one I thought over long and hard," Farmer said in a statement released by USC. "I received input from my family and the coaches, and ultimately it was my decision. I feel like l am ready for the next level, so I am forgoing my senior year and I will work hard to prepare for the NFL.
"I want to thank everyone at USC, my teammates, the coaches and the fans. I had a great time here and will treasure the opportunities we shared."
It was something of a brief time -- at least playing time. In his career, Farmer had 30 catches for 363 yards (12.1 avg.) with four touchdowns and played in 11 games, starting four, this past season. In his healthiest season in his career in 2014, he caught 25 passes for 314 yards (a 12.6 average) with those four TDs which included a pair against Notre Dame in the final regular season game.
In the Holiday Bowl, Farmer caught one pass for four yards and finished the game out of pads for an unspecified injury, it appeared.
He also carried the ball seven times for 17 yards (2.4 avg.) in 2014 with three kickoff returns for 59 yards (19.7 avg.) and two tackles.
For a player who came out of Serra High more highly touted than his teammates Robert Woods, Marqise Lee and Paul Richardson, all now in the NFL, it's not been an easy time watching them come and go, star in college and sign their pro contracts while he struggled to get on the field.
But through it all, George, the son of an NFL player and former LA Ram, handled himself with class and dignity. It's one of the reasons some feel so at a loss today because after a healthy junior season, USC fans were looking forward to a player with his 6-foot-1 and 215-pound size and sub 4.4 speed to move into one of the top two wide receiver spots with Juju Smith now with Agholor's departure.Clearly, the decision wasn't greeted enthusiastically by Steve Sarkisian, reading his comment between the lines: "George and I met, and I gave him my thoughts about him leaving USC early, the pros and the cons. At the end of the day, he made his decision, so we will support him and wish him the best."
At no time during the season did Farmer indicate he was looking to leave although there was some rumbling that he had been the fifth underclass Trojan to request an NFL evaluation. Now he will get one, the only one that counts, on Draft Day -- or the three Draft Days.
Although maybe that impromptu end-of-practice race in San Diego that had Farmer smoking some of the DBs might have been a tipoff that he was getting ready for running at Pro Day. As a high schooler, he famously beat DeAnthony Thomas in the 100-meter CIF finals. So he has that going for him.
To sum it up: He's healthy now, he has the pedigree, he should perform at Pro Day. He just has very little production to show for his college career. How does that play out in the Draft? That's the question we can't answer in January. We'll have to wait until April 30-May 2.
Farmer's departure leaves JuJU as the clear No. 1 returnee with the next tier including Darreus Rogers, Steven Mtchell, Ajene Harris and hybrid tight end Bryce Dixon. It also puts an emphasis on Adoree Jackson's ability to play there as well. And opens things up for big-body early entry wide receiver Isaac Whitney.
FARMER CAREER STATS:
*** 30 catches for 363 yards (12.1 avg.) with 4 TDs, plus 7 carries for 17 yards (2.4 avg.), 3 kickoff returns for 59 yards (19.7 avg.) and 2 tackles.
*** As a junior in 2014 while appearing in 11 games and starting four times, he had 25 receptions for 314 yards (12.6 avg) with four TDs, including a pair of first-quarter touchdowns against Notre Dame.
*** He missed two games in 2011 with an ankle injury, two more games in 2012 with a hamstring injury, all of 2013 with torn knee ligaments and two games this season with a hamstring strain.You can follow me on Twitter at @dweber3440 or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.