USC senior wide receiver De'Quan Hampton had a frustrating 2015 season. The 6-foot-4, 220-pounder finished seventh on the team with 15 catches and had just 165 yards in his first year with the Trojans.
But Hampton believes his numbers would have been better if the ball was spread around. Hampton said Tuesday there were times he was wide open and still wouldn’t get a look from quarterback Cody Kessler.
“In games, last year, JuJu [Smith-Schuster] would have two or three dudes on him, but I’m running wide open down the field on the post,” Hampton said. “Still don’t get hit. That’s a touchdown for us to better ourselves and win the game.”
“It was real frustrating.”
To Hampton, it’s the quarterback’s responsibility to distribute passes to the open receivers.
“I mean it’s not really playcalling. It could be a quarterback thing. A coach can tell a quarterback something, but at the end of the day, it’s the quarterback on the field. Coaches aren’t on the field. Quarterback can do whatever he wants.”
Knowing the ball wasn’t likely to be thrown his way, Hampton’s focus changed to an individual-driven goal.
“It just got to a point where I’m just going to cook [defensive backs] and show that I’m open on the film. That’s all I can do. If he throws me the rock, then he throws me the ball. Lucky me. That’s just how it was on the field. That’s all I could do at the time.”
Through the first two weeks of spring practice, Hampton senses a shift in the distribution of wealth from Kessler’s successors. Passes are going in several directions instead of just to a No. 9 jersey. It hasn’t hurt that Smith-Schuster has been injured the last two practices, keeping the quarterbacks from developing an over reliance on one receiver.
“I’m feeling like it’s changing now,” Hampton said. “If you just look to the past history, there was only one guy they were throwing to. It’s kind of different now. We’re trying to change that game. There’s no just one-dude thing. We’re SC. If we want to win a national championship, that’s the only way.”
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