USC is a program that has seen several quality wide receivers over the years. This is the same school that produced Keyshawn Johnson, Lynn Swann and will eventually see another sure-fire NFLer in Marqise Lee.
But this isn't about those guys, players who have established themselves as elite receivers. This is about George Farmer, who desperately needs to show us something.
The top receiver to come out of the 2011 class (per Rivals.com), this is somebody who had Lee and Robert Woods talent coming out of high school. In fact, all three of those receivers came out of Junipero Serra High School, so the expectations were as high as they may have ever been in recent memory.
With his combination of size and speed, Farmer was supposed to be the next great thing at the receiver position.
We have seen Woods and Lee hold their own thus far. Meanwhile, Farmer is nowhere to be found. In fact, he only has five receptions in two years. Only one of those receptions came last season and that was in the first game against Hawaii, a little checkdown play that resulted in seven yards.
Granted, he has been banged up at certain points of his career, but that doesn't make up two full years of lost production.
If you want to get jolly about Farmer and his ability, it is best to look up some of his high school film. If you do this, you will remember why he was raved about when he announced he was becoming a Trojan. The ability to make plays and potential were sky-high.
Well, as USC gets set to open up spring practice, I refuse to believe that talent just disappeared. Like a zebra never changes stripes, somebody so gifted doesn't just forget how to play the game of football at a high level—especially somebody who can't use age as an excuse.
This isn't Terrell Owens, who is just past his prime and can’t keep up with the speed of the game. This is a young kid who is far more talented than most of the players USC faces on a week-to-week basis, but somehow he finds himself riding the bench.
When you watch Farmer's high school film, it's impossible not to fall in love. His speed jumps off the screen. His vision and ability to make people miss in the open field are just as impressive as if you were watching De'Anthony Thomas. Seriously, you can't convince me that there are five players in the Pac-12 right now that could tackle this guy in the open field. You put the ball in his hands and there is a great chance he is putting six on the board.
He can line up on the outside or in the slot position. Not the biggest target in the world, but his 6'2" frame does give him a slight height advantage over most players defending him. He also has a thick build that allows him to be physical and aggressive at the line of scrimmage.
Capable of beating anything a cornerback throws at him, there is really nothing Farmer isn't capable of doing at his position. He was also a solid route-runner in high school, which only helped him get open—as if he needed any of that.
So why is everything going to click now in spring practice after two full seasons of looking lost on the sidelines?
Well, it seemed that light bulb finally went off when USC was preparing for the bowl game last year. Although Farmer didn't produce any statistics in the loss to the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets, he did practice well and told Lindsey Thiry of Scout.com that he is a lot more comfortable now.
“It took me a minute to get going,” Farmer said after practice, “but now that I’m pretty healthy I feel good I feel more comfortable.”
Farmer also said that he was just focusing on the simple things such as where to line up on certain plays and who to block. As he continues to learn those things, the game will continue to come to him and he will be able to play faster.
Sometimes you can have all of the talent in the world, but you still need to focus on the minor details of the game. Things that most people look over are the things that can separate you from being that player with potential to the elite player that everybody thought you were going to become.
Farmer has an opening for a starting wide receiver spot next to Lee and it will be a chance for him to finally fulfill those expectations.
Trojans fans, be ready to add yet another great pass-catcher to the list.