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Thursday, November 8, 2012
Agholor starting to break out

By Johnny Curren
WeAreSC.com

Nelson Agholor
Despite playing alongside Marqise Lee and Robert Woods, freshman WR Nelson Agholor has managed to make an impression on the Trojans.
LOS ANGELES  Before the season ever started, wide receiver Nelson Agholor knew he'd have to be patient. With the top pair of wideouts in college football already lining up for the Trojans in Marqise Lee and Robert Woods, the dynamic freshman was well aware he might have to wait for the chance to make his mark.

But last Saturday, that time arrived, and Agholor showed he was more than up to the task. With USC taking on Oregon in one of the most anticipated clashes of the season, he broke out and had what was easily the most productive game of his still-young Trojans' career. Agholor hauled in six passes for 162 yards, including an electrifying 76-yard touchdown reception, his first at the college level.

For Agholor, who signed with the Trojans as a highly touted athlete coming out of Tampa (Fla.) Berkeley Prep last February over the likes of Florida and Florida State, the opportunity was well worth the wait.

"It felt good to just help my teammates out," Agholor said. "That was exciting. It felt like my first-ever high school touchdown, and the thing was, I think I did a good job in high school of not getting complacent, and that's what I plan on doing now. Just enjoying that and moving on."

While the Trojans ultimately fell to the Ducks in a 62-51 shootout, his outing made a statement, providing a glimpse of what he can add to the USC offense as another playmaker in Lane Kiffin's arsenal. But if you ask receivers coach Tee Martin, it was only a matter of time.

"I'm not surprised at all," Martin said. "You know, preparation, talent and the want to equals production, in most cases. And he's definitely blessed with talent, he has the want to and he prepares like a pro. And when you do those three things, you're going to produce."

Away from the field, Agholor has made an equally swift adjustment to life in Los Angeles after making the trek across the country. And just like any other college freshman, when he's not taking part in team activities his time is primarily consumed with academic responsibilities, with an active social life sprinkled in here and there.

But there is one more thing Agholor makes sure to set time aside for that you might not expect -- cartoons. Providing a temporary escape from the rigors that come with being a college athlete, "The Simpsons" and "SpongeBob SquarePants" are just a couple of the animated television shows he just can't get enough of.

"I've watched every cartoon there possibly is," Agholor said. "It's just something I've always enjoyed. I'm just trying to stay youthful -- stay young. And there's a time to be serious, and there's times when you're just back at home kicking back and enjoying your youth."

Any time that Agholor steps foot near a football field is certainly one of those serious times.

"It's a job," Agholor said. "I love the game of football, but I understand that for many people this is their means of survival. Not saying that's for me, but I take it seriously because it's a tough game for tough people. Somebody out there, you don't know what their mindset is, so when I play football there's no cartoons on my mind, it's all seriousness."

That ability to focus on what's important is part of the reason for Agholor's speedy transition to the college game. Determined to become a more complete receiver, he's willing to put in the work, no matter how much time and energy it may take.

"During the season, after class, he's coming up trying to get all of the film he can get," Martin said. "Working out at 5:30 in the morning -- he's a kid who wants to be great, and he's led by two guys who came in as true freshmen and had production, caught a lot of balls, had a lot of yards and had a lot of success. And so he wants that."

And while you might figure having two players the caliber of Lee and Woods at his position might have given Agholor pause before inking with USC, it was actually that opportunity to learn from and compete with the well-known tandem that was a driving force behind his decision to become a Trojan. But that doesn't mean he isn't looking to forge his own identity.

"It's a wonderful opportunity to have those two guys in front of you as role models, but you have to be your own man," Agholor said. "Marqise came into his own identity. Myself, I have to do the same."

Agholor's performance last weekend was the first step in accomplishing just that. And whether he gets the chance to shine again this weekend against Arizona State or not, his even-keeled demeanor and patient mindset aren't about to waver.

"To be here and catch passes from Matt Barkley in practice or in games, and compete with the Nickell Robeys, to just be a part of SC and be a part of this football team is wonderful," Agholor said. "Whether or not I go out there on Saturday and catch 10 balls or one ball, it's a blessing."