Freshmen Stepping Up Big For USC

HONOLULU - SEPTEMBER 2: Wide receiver Robert Woods #13 of the University of Southern California Trojans is taken down during first half action against the University of Hawaii Warriors at Aloha Stadium September 2 2010 in Honolulu Hawaii. (Photo by Kent Nishimura/Getty Images)

USC has two freshmen on the rise. For more information, please visit Conquest Chronicles

We're in week two of the young football season and a couple of freshmen are already standing out for the USC Trojans. Robert Woods and Nickell Robey have more than displayed their talent on the field.  Both heard the call from coach Lane Kiffin that he puts the best team on the field and thus far, have not disappointed.

Let's take a glance at these two young studs:

Robert Woods

WR; 6-foot-1, 185-lbs.; Junipero Serra High School, San Mateo, CA

Woods was offered a scholarship from then coach Pete Carroll when he entered USC's annual skill camp after he finished his sophomore year in high school two years ago.  The Serra star then went on to perform what would be his masterpiece junior season that lifted him high in rankings on football recruiting websites. He amassed 1,378 receiving yards with 13 touchdowns and had 87 tackles with seven interceptions as a safety.  Woods surely was talented on both sides of the ball, but his skills was too much to pass up for not being a wide out. 

Woods was also 2010 ESPN RISE Cal-Hi Boys Sports Athlete Of The Year for his achievements both in football and in track and field.  Woods broke numerous California records in track and also ran for the second best time in the 400-meter dash.

Woods committed to USC in mid-August in 2009.  After Carroll's departure from USC, the spotlight shone on Woods and USC's other top commitments to see if they jump ship.  Woods kept his word and signed his letter of intent on National Signing Day. 

Now a Trojan, Woods is starting opposite side of senior Ronald Johnson as a wide receiver.  He made tough catches in coverage against Hawaii, then caught a 40-yard bomb from Barkley in the Virginia game on Saturday.  He led USC in receiving yards with three catches and 64 yards that day.  In two games, Woods has caught 7 passes for 110 yards. There are 11 games left and the best of Woods has yet to seen by the college football world.

Nickell Robey

CB; 5-foot-8, 165-lbs.; Frostproof High School, FL

Perhaps the biggest surprise in the USC depth chart is cornerback Robey.  After holding his own and performing well against the upperclassmen, Kiffin tabbed Robey a starter entering the 2010-11 season. 

Robey's biggest strength is his athleticism.  Yeah, he's only 5-8, but Robey utilizes his light body to fly and deflect passes thrown to his opponents.  Robey played 90-plus snaps in the Hawaii game as he tried to handle Hawaii's top receiver, Greg Salas, and performed like a newcomer.  But Saturday was a different story. Robey deflected a couple passes in the end zone and few passes were thrown his way.  The Florida native was more comfortable and it showed.

Robey was a Georgia lean and seemed that way, but his bond with defensive coordinator Monte Kiffin was too much for the Bull Dogs.  Robey was hooked to Kiffin and was the first to enter in his letter of intent to USC in the first minutes of National Signing Day.  His mother passed away in the days after and Robey re-thought his commitment to USC, but ultimately felt USC is where he wanted to play football.

As the two continue to thrive in the USC squad, some other freshmen are compelled to perform.  The next freshman star could be running back Dillon Baxter.  The San Diego native showed his agility and his quick feet and shifty skills to go through the Virginia defense.  With only 9 snaps, Baxter amassed 49 yards, good for a 5.4 average.  Kiffin says he is USC's most talented player.

Let's see if he can pass Mr. Woods and Mr. Robey first.

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