USC freshman George Farmer is seeing game action while UCLA freshman quarterback Brett Hundley still waits. AP Photo
By Jason Lewis
Sentinel Sports Editor
For half of the season it looked like USC was going to redshirt freshman George Farmer (Gardena Serra High School), which puzzled a lot of fans because of all the hype behind Farmer coming to USC.
Farmer suffered a concussion in training camp, and other wide receivers were able to get ahead of him on the depth chart, including freshman Marqise Lee (Gardena Serra), who has had an amazing season for a freshman.
Lee is second on the team in receiving, behind sophomore Robert Woods (Gardena Serra), with 25 receptions for 404 yards and four touchdowns.
It looked like it would be difficult to get Farmer on the field, so redshirting him was the best option, but when head coach Lane Kiffin could not find the right combination of running backs, he decided to try Farmer there.
Well that experiment last week in a 30-9 victory over Cal only produced four yards on four carries for Farmer, with a long run of five yards. He also had one catch for 14 yards.
Were those meager numbers worth giving up Farmer’s redshirt season? Yes!
If Farmer lives up to the expectations that he had when he committed to USC, he probably was not going to stay for four years. He more than likely was going to bolt for the NFL.
Redshirting him this season would mean that USC might only get two seasons out of him, because he would be able to declare himself for the NFL Draft after his redshirt sophomore season. So there was no point in keeping him on the sidelines for the entire year.
The move got Farmer on the field, and even though he did not produce much, he will be on the field a lot more now, so now he has the chance to show what he can do.
Do not be surprised if Farmer starts putting up big numbers, whether he stays at running back, or moves back to wide receiver. He is so talented that he could produce at both positions.
There could be more opportunities running the ball for Farmer, because senior running back Marc Tyler, who is the team’s leading rusher, may miss some time with a dislocated shoulder. It looks like Tyler will try to get into the line up this Saturday at Notre Dame, but the chances may be slim.
The running back who could benefit the most from this is junior Curtis McNeal (Venice High School), who some believe has been their best running back so far this season.
McNeal has waited his turn year in year out, and this could finally be it.
The running back who appears to be the odd man out is Dillon Baxter, who can’t seem to get himself out of the dog house.
As for UCLA and their redshirt freshman dilemma, they can be a lot more patient than USC, which annoys some UCLA fans who are looking for a change at quarterback.
Freshman quarterback Brett Hundley was brought in to “save the program.” But an offseason knee injury sidelined him for the bulk of training camp, and he has not seen the field this season, which is probably a good thing.
If Hundley is going to play a limited role then there is no point in burning a year for him. If he plays some this year, do they make him the starter for next year, by passing Kevin Prince and Richard Brehaut, who will be seniors?
If Hundley does not redshirt this year, and either Prince or Brehaut beats him out next year, then Hundley will only have two seasons to be the starter.
If Hundley redshirts this season then he would have a chance at being a four-year starter at UCLA if he can win the job. If he is beaten out next year, then he will be a three-year starter.
It is really a numbers game, and UCLA should try to get as many years out of Hundley as possible, so that means redshirting him.
But that may not be an option, because Brehaut broke his leg in UCLA’s 28-25 victory over Washington St., putting Prince back into the starting lineup, and making Hundley the No. 2 quarterback on the depth chart.
Prince has been injury prone his entire career, and he has dealt with injuries this season. So chances are Hundley will have to play.
If Hundley does play, hopefully he will get more than a of couple games to make it worth it wasting his redshirt year. And for UCLA’s sake, hopefully he will be the starter next year.
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