USC wide receiver De'Von Flournoy has always been there waiting for his chance. Biding his time as he sat behind the likes of Damian Williams, Ronald Johnson, Brandon Carswell, Brice Butler, Robert Woods, Marqise Lee and Nelson Agholor, he grew to learn the virtue of patience in a big way during his first four years in the Trojans program.
But now, as a fifth-year senior, Flournoy is finally getting an opportunity to see the field, and it’s safe to say that he’s making the most of it -- never more so than this past weekend.
With the Trojans wracked by injuries at seemingly every position heading into their matchup with Utah, USC head coach Ed Orgeron told the team in no uncertain terms that some of the lesser-known contributors would have to step up. It’s a message that Flournoy, who is a member of a wide receiver group that was down to three scholarship players, heard loud and clear.
“He made a point that I’ll never forget,” Flournoy said. “He said, ‘When the big brother leaves, it’s time for the little brother to step into his shoes and take over the household.’ ”
Flournoy did precisely that against the Utes. With Lee, as well as Victor Blackwell, unable to suit up, he made the second start of his career and came through with two receptions for 45 yards, bringing his season total to five catches for 69 yards.
Flournoy’s second reception of the day, a quick toss from Cody Kessler that the Van Nuys (Calif.) Birmingham product turned into a 31-yard gain after breaking a pair of tackles, ultimately set up a field goal and was one of the highlight plays of the afternoon in a 19-3 USC victory.
“I try just to never stop my feet when I catch the ball,” said Flournoy, who missed two games earlier this season with an ankle injury. “You catch the ball and you move north and south. That’s what the game is all about … getting first downs. And the line did a nice job of holding things up, Cody made a great read and delivered the rock, and I just had to go get the first down.”
For a player who entered the 2013 campaign having amassed just one reception in the previous three seasons combined, his performance against Utah marked the realization of a dream.
“Any way that you can contribute always feels good, but to contribute on the stat sheet to help get a W, it feels tremendous,” Flournoy said. “The emotion kind of took over, and my teammates told me how proud they were of me, and the coaching staff did too. It’s the greatest feeling in the world. To have your parents in the stands, and you actually get on the field to make plays for your team, it’s a great feeling.”
The joy that Flournoy’s teammates and coaches took in his outing is well justified. As one of the Trojans’ most dedicated practice performers, he’s garnered a reputation as a leader-by-example whom the younger players gravitate towards for guidance.
“My role has always been the guy that knows all of the plays,” Flournoy said. “If you come to me with any questions, I’ll always have the answer. I’m able to be fluid in every position.”
Having now moved beyond just being a mentor, Flournoy figures to continue to get plenty of playing time this Friday when the Trojans face Oregon State, particularly with Lee’s status still up in the air. It’s another opportunity that he’s more than ready for.
“I definitely hear my number being called a lot more,” Flournoy said. “It’s just time for me to execute.”