Nelson Agholor: The Next Great USC Wide Receiver, Or Running Back?

Lane Kiffin has landed one dynamo wide receiver after another the last few seasons. Can he do the same with Nelson Agholor out of Berkeley Prep in Tampa, Florida?

Agholor is looking up the depth chart if he starts at wide receiver. Behind Robert Woods and Marqise Lee is a whole lot of inexperience with De'Von Flournoy, Victor Blackwell and George Farmer. There's so much talent with that group despite the loads of inexperience. What you see in his highlight reel is promising, but it won't be anything that leaps him ahead of his contemporaries. His athleticism doesn't quite yet outweigh his pure rawness as a receiver.

You'll notice Agholor is spending a lot of time in the backfield in these highlights because the head coach had this amazing idea that the best player on the team should probably touch the football as much as humanly possible. You can see how good he is when he gets in the open field (although it bears mentioning he'll be facing slightly stiffer competition in the Pac-12). He seems like that sort of stretch option that can be used on sweep plays and end-around to stretch a defense, perhaps even get in there as a secondary running back. Despite being recruited as a receiver, Agholor was primarily running the football his senior season.


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It kind of makes you wonder how Agholor will be used at USC to start out. His instincts resemble those of a running back's more than a wide receiver's (although to be fair all he's doing in these highlights is grabbing handoffs, hitting the hole and striding away). He does a good job with the cutback when he sees defenders closing up on him from ahead to find open field, and has the elite acceleration to make that sort of play almost routine for him.

The question is that acceleration elite enough to stand up to Pac-12 linebackers inside or outside the box? It's one thing to torch local Florida high schools, but it's quite another to juke out defenses that are ready for your stuff, particularly when you're a taller player and easier to identify and tackle in space.

With the Trojans having precious little running back depth, Kiffin has talked about using Agholor out at running back, but it's sounding like the ill-fated Farmer experiment. Agholor might have running back instincts, but he has a wide receiver's body, and it's hard to see him really adapting into a tailback and being successful. Agholor might need a bit more time to just develop into the type of receiving wunderkind that can devastate the Pac-12. The talent is there, but he needs more reps in a pro-style offense.

Because when he gets them...

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