Junior Pomee has untapped potential

LOS ANGELES -- Lane Kiffin has high expectations for tight end Junior Pomee, and the redshirt freshman has not been meeting them thus far.

And so Kiffin is letting him know he's disappointed.

Even after a Saturday scrimmage during which Pomee starred more than any other USC Trojan, Kiffin couldn't help but sound off the player's off-and-on ways, calling him "extremely inconsistent."

For his part, the talented Pomee has accepted that blame.

"I agree with him on that," Pomee said when told of Kiffin's comment. "I know the plays. But sometimes I'll listen to the plays or whatever, and it just won't come in as it should.

"I just need to pay attention to detail, basically."

To briefly recap, Pomee started his day with a 60-yard touchdown on a nicely-run seam route, then followed it up with a diving touchdown grab that he should not have caught. The only ballhandling mistake he made all day was a drop that came in tight coverage down the sideline.

All that was for the scout team, against the first-team defense. So Pomee was moved up to the second-team offense, but immediately upon switching jerseys he messed up the play call twice in a row and forced the Trojans to waste a timeout.

"It was good to see him make plays, but you don't get to read off of cards and have the play told to you every time," Kiffin said Saturday. "Junior's got a long ways to go.

"Obviously he's very talented and it's our job to find a way to get him focused."

Pomee, a product of Moreno Valley Rancho Verde, is 6 feet 3 and 250 pounds and runs a 4.6 40. On a team packed with elite athletes, he's one of the most impressive physical specimens of all. But he has to put it together mentally to contribute.

The fact the Trojans have used true freshman Jalen Cope-Fitzpatrick so liberally this camp is evidence that they don't yet trust Pomee. Instead of trying to redshirt Cope-Fitzpatrick, they're incorporating him right into special teams and offensive packages as a third tight end.

Pomee would ideally fill that role, and he easily could fill it.

The interesting thing is that he's one of a select few Trojans fitting that mold now. In previous years, guys like Dillon Baxter and Markeith Ambles consistently failed to reach their full potential.

Now, it seems as if USC's biggest stars are guys who have maxed theirs out.

"You have an extremely high percentage of a team that is really maximizing what they can do and knows their stuff," Kiffin said Saturday. "Where before we had a lot more guys that we were trying to get turned over on the consistency side, we don't have many of those guys now."

But, yes, Pomee is still one of those guys to Kiffin and the USC staff.

"He's got a lot of work to do, and we've got a lot of work to do with him," Kiffin said. "Hopefully he'll put it all together, because he could be a really good player."