USC Trojans WR Nelson Agholor aims for steady improvement


LOS ANGELES -- Nelson Agholor knew he was going to become USC's No. 2 receiver this season with Robert Woods off to the NFL, but the sophomore was nearly thrust into the top job when Marqise Lee landed hard on his shoulder at practice Aug. 9.

Fortunately Lee avoided serious injury, but Agholor told NFL Draft 365 on Thursday that the scare would not change how he approaches the game.

"If I'm on the field and he's on the field, it doesn't really matter. You got to play your responsibility," Agholor said.

For Agholor, that means a methodology closer to Woods than Lee. Lee has been an acrobat in his two incredible years as a Trojan, relying on his incredible athleticism while developing technique as a receiver. Woods was a superior route runner, understanding how to attack the weak spots in a defense like a surgeon wielding a scalpel.

"Marqise plays with so much passion and Robert plays with so much attention to detail," said Agholor, describing what he took away from his one season sharing the field with them. "That's why I came here, to play alongside two great players and two great competitors. Those guys practice like they play with great enthusiasm and great effort. That's something I want to continue to do myself."

With opponents sure to focus attention on Lee, Agholor is likely to see a steady dose of single coverage as he builds on the 19 receptions for 340 yards and two touchdowns he posted last season. Those opportunities could allow him to be one of the breakthrough stars of 2013.

Under similar circumstances last season, Lee emerged as the top receiver in college football with Woods in the role that the reigning Biletnikoff Award winner will serve this season. Agholor, however, is downplaying his chances for a similar seismic leap. He expects steady growth.

"Marqise is going to go out there and he is going to play the way he is going to play," Agholor said. "Personally, I must play my assignment and I must make plays when my turn comes."

Follow Dan Greenspan on Twitter @DanGreenspan.

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