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July 20, 2012To this point, over three years, the USC career of De'Von Flournoy has been slightly underwhelming. He has yet to record a single catch, and since arriving as a freshman in 2009, he's appeared in a total of just 10 games - certainly nothing to write home about.
But the 6-foot wideout, oddly enough, could very well become the Trojans' third option behind Marqise Lee and Robert Woods this fall. Yes, that De'Von Flournoy.
As USC coach Lane Kiffn pointed out during spring practice, we might be witnessing another "Carswell story."
Over five seasons from 2007-2011, Brandon Carswell caught just 40 passes for 386 yards and two touchdowns, hardly the flashiest numbers. But instead of transferring, which he nearly did during the summer of 2010, he stuck around and carved out a valuable niche as a reliable third option and blocker. It's a stark contrast to those such as Travon Patterson, who left instead.
Flournoy, who now enters his fourth season with the team, has taken notice of that ol' Carswell story.
"He was one of the receivers who took me under his wing," Flournoy said. "Last year, he would pull me to the side and say 'you have to know all the positions. You have to be that reliable guy that can always be counted upon no matter what. You have to be able to do it all.' Well, if that's what I need to do, he'd know."
Flournoy took advantage of his opportunities in the spring. With injuries to Woods and rising sophomore George Farmer, along with Lee's track obligations, Flournoy and redshirt freshman Victor Blackwell were often the premier wideouts during workouts and the only scholarship players available. So, he got his chance and became one of the success stories of the offseason, which continues with the team's June and July player-only workouts.
"I just need to be a role player," the fourth-year wide receiver said Friday. "I just need to know my role and every time I get in the game and there's a role, I need to fulfill it and get it done."
Doing as much has taken longer, though -- perhaps longer than he thought.
Like many, Flournoy arrived at USC as one of the more decorated high school prospects as a four-star, a Super Prep All-American, and to his surprise, he didn't play immediately for Pete Carroll in the coach's final season. He watched.
"I came in not level-headed," he says. "I didn't play right away, so I didn't feel like I had to work for anything. Kiffin came in and humbled me and showed me that I have to work for what I want. Because I'm working for what I want, I feel like I know more now. I feel way more established as a receiver."
He's hoping those lessons pay off as he'll compete with Blackwell and Farmer, as well as incoming freshman Nelson Agholor for the team's third wideout spot. But he isn't worrying, either.
"If I show something that I do very well, then they can utilize it in the games," Flournoy says. "I have a lot of faith in this coaching staff."
Joey Kaufman is a Print and Digital Journalism major at USC and has covered the Trojans for the Daily Trojan, SB Nation and Neon Tommy since 2010. Follow him on Twitter at @JoeyRKaufman.