True freshman wide receiver Michael Pittman got a head start on his college career after he graduated early from Oaks Christian High School and enrolled at USC. The former four-star prospect is already up to 6-foot-4, 215 pounds and he has been making his presence felt on the field.
Pittman has played in all nine games for the Trojans, catching six passes for 82 yards, two punt returns for 63 yards, a pair of kickoff returns, a couple of special teams tackles and he blocked a punt.
"It's really great to come out and actually get play time because we work so hard in practice," Pittman said after practice this week. "Being a freshman it really feels good to see your progress on Saturdays."
Offensive administrative assistant and former USC All-American Keary Colbert sees something special in Pittman.
"He works really hard," Colbert said after the win over Oregon where Pittman had four catches for 63 yards. "You can tell football means a lot to him. He's a tough guy, smart and he's really just taken advantage of his opportunity. Every time he goes in he's really hungry, trying to do all the right things and he's really having a lot of success learning from some of the older guys and Tee Martin and the rest of the coaches."
Another way Pittman has made an significant impact is blocking for his teammates.
"My dad was a running back and he was always telling me how good blocking receivers really helped his game," he said. "That just kind of clicked, if I can block good then I can get on the field more."
We asked Pittman about getting kudos in the film room for some of his game breaking blocks and he was quick to point out, "You don't get praised for blocks because that is what you are supposed to do."
But the coaching staff has certainly taken notice of Pittman's unselfish contributions.
"He's [a great blocker because he's] a tough individual. He played safety in high school and outside linebacker," Colbert said. "He's really tough, he's physical, he likes to stick his face in there and that is what you like to see out of a wide receiver. It's one of those deals where he is always around the ball, always trying to get around the ball and flying around and that is what makes him special."
Speaking of special, Pittman started the Trojans off on the right foot with a 28 yard trick play punt return against Oregon. With the dangerous Adoree Jackson on the left side of the field the Oregon coverage team gravitated towards his direction, but Pittman fielded the punt and ran it up the right side of the field.
They call it the 'rap' play.
"We practiced that all week," Pittman said. "The punter actually put it in a pretty good spot because we track down where the punters kick it and that was his only punt of the season on the hash. It was set up to score but I think we got like 20 yards out of it. My team was bashing me because I didn't score, but it was a fun play to run."
Getting work on special teams helped Pittman with the transition from high school to college.
"That is where I got my feel for the college game and the speed so that is helping me with my development. That and blocking has really helped me and reading how guys move."
USC's 2016 wide receiver class was one of the best in the country, but Pittman is the only one of the five incoming receivers who isn't redshirting at this point.
"They all kind of stand out in different ways," Colbert said. "He obviously made the most of his opportunities and that is why are are seeing him today. He's doing well but I think the other guys are doing really well too. Their class is going to be really special in two or three years."
"Those guys are also really, really talented guys, it's just you guys don't get to see them because they decided to redshirt," Pittman said. "We've got a talented group that's coming up."
Stay tuned to USCFootball.com for more updates on Pittman and the rest of the Trojans.