Stats: 13 games played, 1 interception, 58 tackles, 1 tackle for loss, 4 passes broken up, 8 punt returns (76 yards), 1 TD, 1 blocked kick
What Stood Out:: Nickell Robey was USC’s only reliable corner in 2012–and for the past two seasons, for that matter–so much so that all the others were lumped into one category: “Cornerbacks Not Named Nickell.” From day one with Troy, Robey made sure people remembered his name. He was the first true freshman cornerback to start for USC post-World War II, and had many moments over his three-year college career that were game-changes for the Trojans. He has established himself as one of, if not the best shutdown corners in the Pac-12, causing all kinds of problems for opposing wide receivers. He is small of stature, but he is quick, incredibly athletic, and good instincts that allow him to make plays on the ball. His decision to follow Lane Kiffin from Tennessee to USC in 2009 was one of the best things happen to the Trojan secondary in recent history.
What Needed Work:Robey was not able to be a significant playmaker in 2012, recording only one pick all season. Chalk that up to him getting the Morris Claiborne treatment, where he was so much better than USC’s other CBs that opposing teams threw shade his way, preventing the ball from going his way as much as possible. Even though that is a testament to how good he is at what he does, being eliminated as a playmaker hurt his numbers, and could ultimately have an impact on his draft stock later this spring.
Final Word: Robey had a stand-out career with the Trojans, and his presence will be sorely missed until someone steps up and fills his role. He is currently projected to go in the 3rd or 4th round of the 2013 NFL Draft in April.