Veteran receiver is finally getting his chance to shine
USCâs receiving core is looking a little different than it did last season.
In fact, at times, itâs unrecognizable.
Other than sophomore receiver Marqise Lee, who was a star last season and has carried that success over to the spring, there have been some lesser known players who have stepped into the enormous shoes that junior receiver Robert Woods left when he announced he was out for the duration of spring practice.
One of the players making a name for himself is junior DeâVon Flournoy.
Last season, Flournoy caught a total of zero passes. He has no catches in his Trojan tenure. But looking at him this spring, you sure wouldnât think he was inexperienced.
Flournoy has made the routine catches but has made the difficult ones as well. And he is enjoying every second of it.
âItâs been wonderful,â Flournoy said. âIâve been put in a position Iâve never been at before.â
Flournoy came to USC as a four-star recruit out of Birmingham High School. He had offers from some of the college football heavyweights, including Notre Dame and Oregon. Injuries, however, have hampered his career.
He has gotten lost in the receiving mix with Woods, Lee and former top recruit receiver George Farmer, all from Serra High School in Gardena, Calif., headlining the squad.
But injuries caught up with Farmer and Woods this spring, and Flournoy has been working with the first-string offense in their place.
Flournoy has had to change his outlook now that he is a focal point of the offense.
âItâs definitely a mindset,â Flournoy said. âI have to prepare myself the day before for all kinds of positions. I have to be ready for anything.â
He also said that in working with the first team, he has paid greater attention to detail and is taking things more seriously.
âIâm getting [more of a] feel for football,â Flournoy said. â[Iâm] getting more comfortable being out on the field and just bettering myself as a football player.â
With more exposure and more chances to succeed, Flournoy has also gained a great deal of confidence.
But it is not just playing with the first team that is giving the junior confidence; it is his knack for the spectacular play and knowing that coaches are watching.
âIâm getting confidence by being out here, but Iâm getting confidence by making big plays because I know itâs on film,â he said. âLike [associate head] coach [John] Baxter always says, âEvery day, the coaches are going upstairs and watching a silent movie about you.ââ
While his playing time has changed, so has his regular quarterback. Though he and freshman quarterback Max Wittek have the most catches between them this spring, Flournoy has had to adjust to catching passes from senior quarterback Matt Barkley.
âEvery quarterback throws the ball differently,â Flournoy said. âGetting reps with Barkley out here [in practice] and outside of school is a good thing, because weâre working on timing âŠ and thatâs where you want to be. You want to be with the first team.â
When it comes down to it, however, Flournoy said that though his quarterback is different now, his job will always be the same: to catch the football when it comes his way, no matter who throws it.
âItâs just being out there and in a different position and just being able to catch the ball from the quarterback âŠ if he trusts you enough to throw you the ball,â Flournoy said.
The offense has been somewhat of a work in progress this spring, with players normally atop the depth chart out with injuries. Flournoy, however, has not made any excuses; he is playing with the first team.
âWeâve installed a lot of plays so, as an offense, we have a lot that weâre handling mentally,â Flournoy said. âWe just have to go out there and just execute it.â
Flournoy will likely take a back seat when Woods and Farmer return; however, he said he is making the most of his opportunities and is soaking in everything he has learned this spring, at every position he can.
âIâm not going in with the mindset Iâm playing one position,â Flournoy said. âIâm in the mindset of being thrown everything.â