The title of most prolific receiver in USC football history has been a revolving door the last 20 years. From Johnnie Morton, to Keyshawn Johnson, Keary Colbert, Mike Williams and Dwayne Jarrett, various records have fallen by the wayside without haste with new holders grabbing them at will. With that in mind, we were able to catch up with the current holder of pretty much ever USC receiving record there is, Robert Woods.
Woods, who was selected by the Buffalo Bills in the second round of April’s draft, was in Lomita this weekend for an autograph session with his exclusive memorabilia partner, DSC Authentic. Reign of Troy editor Michael Castillo caught up with Woods in between hand cramps, to talk about both his USC days and current time as an NFL receiver.
RoT: So, Robert, you’ve had six months to decompress from the 2012 season. In that time, have you had a change of perspective at all with how everything went down with you going from the No. 1 guy to Marqise Lee being the first look receiver last year?
Woods: Not at all. I just see it as that I came to USC to just do my role and play my role. I was fortunate to have the success that I did have, but I don’t look at it as a No. 1 or a No. 2, but just a member of a great offense.
RoT: Is that a mentality that could allow Nelson Agholor to fit right into that pressure at receiver that you had last year?
Woods: I think so. He’s a great player and I think he definitely fits into the offense already. He’s explosive. I’m supposed to meet up with him this week, actually, to get some work in with him.
RoT: You mentioned Agholor earlier. How does the summer workout regimen that he’s going through at USC, which you obviously had for three years, compare to the OTAs that you’re doing with the Bills? Similar at all or is there a chance of pace with coach interaction?
Woods: I would say it’s actually pretty similar, except for school, since I don’t have that to worry about. But it’s quite the same, especially at USC because the way they set it up is very pro-style.
RoT: So Kiffin’s staff really hammers home that NFL mentality.
Woods: Oh yeah. Everything about USC. The way they had our meetings, they way they run the meetings, how practices are run, how intense it is, how we lift in the weight room. I feel like all of that stuff prepares us for the NFL. And then with Kiffin running the playbook, it’s the same thing, just a different translation.
RoT: Does that include preparing for the media, too? SC probably has the most media around the team than any other team in college football, given that LA is much bigger than Buffalo.
Woods: I would say so. LA is one of those cities that is like at full speed. And then for me, coming from LA, I can slow down in Buffalo, which allows me to relax at times and be able to think, and I think that helps me coming from LA. It’s slower.
RoT: You obviously went to Serra with Marqise Lee. Did Serra prepare you for SC like SC prepared you for the NFL?
Woods: Yes, especially [Coach Altenberg]. We had a lot of competition on the field, but he would always make about 10 of us stay after practice when we were all dead tired and wanted to go home. He would make us stay, run extra routes and run gassers. But it all panned out and paved the way for us, and we’re all doing well now.
RoT: You think that pipeline is going to continue?
Woods: I hope so. That’s the plan, to build a great high school and so far it’s been going well. They keep on winning.
RoT: Shifting gears, Steven Mitchell just went down a knee injury and he’s going to miss the season. Without him and Farmer, there’s just five scholarship receivers on the roster. Do you think that lack of depth is going to be a problem this year or will Kiffin’s top-heavy approach to the receiving corps help make up for depth issues?
Woods: I mean, it does help, but I would say that the way our offense is run and how we practice, Kiffin will definitely take care of Marqise and Nelson, and then whoever that third receiver is. To make sure they’re healthy, he’ll manage their reps in practice. [The depth] helps for practice purposes, but in the game, Kiffin knows who he’s going to roll with.
RoT: I thought that in the Notre Dame game last year, you had a good rapport with Max Wittek. Do you think that the experience he gained and that big arm of his gives him the edge as the starting quarterback going into the fall?
Woods: Yeah, I think so. He’s a great quarterback with a great arm and he now has that experience, as you said. But, I mean, Cody Kessler is going to give him some good competition and I know he had a great spring camp and spring game. We’ll see how it goes at the end, but they’ll still have another chance to compete throughout fall camp.
RoT: Speaking of guys you had a good relationship with at USC, you always went up against Nickell Robey in practice. Now you’ll have to keep looking at his face in Buffalo, after he signed with the Bills. Is that going to be fun for you?
Woods: Yeah, it’s definitely fun. He’s been making a lot of plays already, as it is. Me just having experience with him, I know how he plays and how to beat him at times. That helps me, especially since he’s one of the best corners on the team.
RoT: In college, you had Lee to be your wingman the last two years and before that, you learned under Ronald Johnson as a freshman. Do you expect to have that same bond in Buffalo with a guy like Stevie Johnson?
Woods: It’s really the same thing. I’m learning a lot from him and how he plays the game, as a receiver. With he already established in the NFL, I’m just trying to take notes from him and kind of compete with him, as well. I just have to learn and get better.
RoT: So as you try to improve day in and day out in the NFL, who are you trying to pattern your game after?
Woods: I try to mold my game after Jerry [Rice]. His releases, his routes, his hands, how he practices and how he works. All of that, I try to put in my game. As a current player, Reggie Wayne and a little bit of Calvin [Johnson], as he has the records right now. You gotta follow the guy that’s on top.
RoT: He’s got the records and now you got records at SC, there ya go.
RoT: Alright, Robert. It was good chatting with you and we wish you the best of luck this year.
Woods: Thank you!