If anyone of the 11 Trojans who ran the 40 here or the 15 or so who took part in Pro Day, no one had more on the line than George Farmer. He'd hoped to get an invite to the Combine last month but that didn't happen.
Now we know, from his 4.35 electronic time in the 40 and his 19 bench press reps, both in the top handful of results of the wide receivers invited to Indianapolis, he should have gotten that Combine call.
But he didn't. And didn't let it bother him. "I never doubted myself," said Farmer, who came to USC the most highly touted of the Serra trio with Robert Woods and Marqise Lee, both USC stars who have gone on to the NFL.
"People have always doubted me," George was saying after acknowledging how his USC career hasn't panned out as he'd hoped with injuries and production issues, "but I just don't pay any attention to that."
With just one course to go for his degree, and in the best health he's experienced, he decided to go for it this spring. "USC gave me some options," he said, but this was his time to take his shot. He'll have his degree. And now he has his Pro Day.
Asked to make his case for the NFL scouts, other than the ability to run an electronic 4.35 at 220 pounds, George gave it his best pitch: "I'm a great athlete . . . I work hard . . . I'm trustworthy . . . I show up and work hard every day . . . I'm a great kid . . . All I need is an opportunity."
He'll do anything. Run back kicks, play on special teams coverage, whatever a team needs. "I'm pretty confident I can play."
And there's no bitterness at all about his USC career. "I wouldn't change a thing," he said, even if "it didn't go as I planned . . . it's made me the person I am . . . I'm blessed."
Woods and Lee, his Serra buds -- "We're like brothers," he says, "they've encouraged me.
He's also close to getting his pilot's license, Farmer says. And he'll keep working on that as well.
Chris Willson: All options open
He's dropped 20 pounds, down to 245, and thinned out through his upper body in order to throw the football at Pro Day and maybe in his sixth year of NCAA eligibility that he's been told will be officially his soon. But former tight end Chris Willson says only one thing is certain right now. He's completing his final two courses this spring for his USC degree.
From then, "Everything is on the table," Willson says. He could decide to come back to USC as a tight end and start weightifting again the way he was when he got to 265 by the end of last season that he lost to a broken foot the first week. Or he could pursue his dream of getting in a season of college football as a quarterback somewhere else.
With a 5.07 time in the 40, his path to the next level might be more likely as a quarterback. Getting back to baseball, maybe even for USC's nationally ranked Trojans, probably would have taken four to five months, he said.
"I'm 23," he said. "I want to see what the scouts say," after some throwing but not a full quarterback session. "But I want to make a decision. My heart is here," he said with a wave at the USC campus. "This is my family here. My heart goes out to them. i need to make a decision."
And yes, he does catch practice in the film room and he knows exactly how much USC could use a tight end who can catch the ball and play physical.
40 times for the Trojans
These are the electronic times (slower than the scouts' hand-held times) and the better of the player's two times: Gerald Bowman -- 4.70 (ran just once); Farmer -- 4.35; Nathan Guertler -- 5.20; Aundrey Walker -- 5.14; Hayes Pullard (4.74 exactly on both runs; Anthony Neyer -- 5.05; Willson -- 5.07; Dominique Byrd -- 4.77; Patrick Hall -- 4.63; D.J. Morgan -- 4.48; Kevin Thomas -- 4.60.
Morgan has dropped 30 pounds to 175 and is starting work for spring track and field and will be back running the hurdles . . . If he gets any NFL interest, he figures he'd play at 190 or so . . . George Uko was in attendance with T. J. McDonald among other NFL Trojans . . . Uko started with New Orleans but then made the Tampa Bay roster the final three games after being on the practice squad and will be back with the Bucs next year . . . USC practices a second time at the Coliseum this week on Saturday, which will also be closed to the public . . . USC will also practice Thursday at 3:30 p.m. at Cromwell Field and that one is open to the public . . . USC will take off next week for spring break and will return to practice Tuesday, March 24, at Cromwell Field.CHECK THIS OUT: More details on pro Day USC PRO DAY: LIVE FROM CROMWELL FIELD.
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