Friday, November 26, 2021

USC’s Kyle Ford Ready To Retire After Drake London Injury

As Drake London writhed in pain on the Colosseum field last Saturday, clutching a broken ankle that prematurely ended the star’s final season at USC, the reaction from his expansion mates, many of whom were kneeling beside him, was intuitive. The injury was similar to a blow to the stomach, due to which the attacker was suffocating.

“It really hurts now,” said sophomore Gary Bryant Jr.

“We all felt it,” added sophomore Taj Washington.

However, few could understand what a USC star receiver like Kyle Ford was. When the two recipients signed with USC as part of their 2019 class, Ford was a five-star top-five rookie in the state, seemingly on its way to fame, while London barely made it into the top 250 nationwide. a cruciate ligament in his knee forced Ford to sit out most of his first season. Meanwhile London has become a star in the making.

The following summer, when the opportunity arose, Ford tore up the ACL again.

It has been a challenging journey for Ford since then. As his close friend became a loyal All-American, Ford slowly worked his way back, taking advantage of every opportunity he could take advantage of. He has just seven catches in four games this season. But as the USC seeks ways to replace London, which is in a crucial road war with Arizona, the former five-star recipient may be the most visible beneficiary of the crime.

“I just hope to do everything that Drake did,” Ford said. “It’s like my best friend. I told him I would carry it for him. “

He doesn’t have to carry it alone. No one at USC is under the impression that London, whose 88 catches still outperform all Power Five receivers, can be replaced with a single receiver. Leader in the Biletnikoff Award, given to the nation’s top player, London accounted for nearly 43 percent of USC’s passing yards before he was injured. It is unlikely that by the end of this season, any of the USC receivers will match at least half of London’s performance.

But as the Trojans look to a future without London, which is expected to be picked in the first round of the NFL draft next spring, Ford is the recipient that most resembles his skillset. He is 6ft 2,225lb and is sized to be a threat at the seam where London’s star turn also first began.

“He can still move like a 205 pound guy,” said USC interim coach Donte Williams. “So from a physical point of view, whether it’s blocking or coming out of a break. At the same time, he can catch a deep ball. So this is a physical guy in and of itself, playing in long receptions versus a corner. “

USC receivers Gary Bryant Jr. and Tahj Washington (16) celebrate after Bryant Jr. scored a goal against Oregon on September 25 at the Colosseum.

(Gina Ferazzi / Los Angeles Times) #

This physicality sets it apart from other USC receivers on the depth chart. Bryant Jr. at his best stretches the field deeply. Washington has excelled in space, where it can use its quick cuts on short and intermediate routes. Both fared well on Saturday in London’s absence, but would be mistaken for a 6-5 substitution for their rival.

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Ford, on the other hand, can make a pretty convincing impression.

“To be honest, I feel like I can come in and have an impact and take on this role pretty well,” Ford said. “I’m sure of it”.

That confidence has skyrocketed in recent weeks as the last long-term effects of his injuries have continued to diminish. Ford said that he now feels as fast and nervous as he has at any time since his injury. He assures that his knee is no longer a problem.

He will have every chance of proving it that Saturday when he is expected to draw on the USC attack. In any case, after not seeing offensive shots for three games, Ford has been on the rise over the past two weeks. London’s trauma only accelerated this process.

Since then, the relevance of the game has increased in anticipation of the match with the state of Arizona. During a meeting with the receptionists earlier in the week, Assistant Coach Kiri Colbert made it clear to those present that they will have many opportunities to prove themselves in the future. The message was not lost on any of the USC recipients.

“Anyone in this area can be # 1,” Bryant Jr. said.

How different this leading role will look without London remains to be seen, but the state of Arizona is expected to rely heavily on personal coverage, forcing the successors of the Trojans to defeat them one-on-one. This should give USC a lot of chances to see which broadens are likely to take the lead.

There is no guarantee that this will be a receiver that will take the extra burden on the USC. Much attention is expected to be given to running after Keontey Ingram pulled back 342 yards in the past two weeks. There are also high hopes for the tough endings of USC, with Malcolm Epps coming out recently, and freshman Michael Trigg hoping to make a comeback before the end of the season.

But for Ford, the path is paved to a particularly strong finish in the absence of a friend. As they pondered the road ahead this week, Ford told London to stay positive in the rehab process.

London gave its advice.

“He told me to just go and continue what I was doing,” Ford said. “I told him that I have it.”

Nation World News Desk
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