It hasn’t happened since records began being kept after World War II. USC will start a freshman at wide receiver, and a freshman will also start at cornerback. USC has never opened a season with a true freshman at either of those spots since WWII. That’s insane.
Robert Woods, rated as the No. 1 athlete in the country, and No. 6 prospect overall by Rivals.com last year, beat out fifth-year senior David Ausberry, sophomore De’Von Flournoy and fellow freshman stud Kyle Prater to earn the nod at wide receiver. Woods has had a fantastic summer and will start opposite senior Ronald Johnson, who is primed for a huge year.
We all know the Trojans will certainly rotate tons of players at the wide receiver spot, but the fact that this kid was picked to start says a lot about his ability.
At cornerback, four-star recruit (and owner of a fantastic name) Nickell Robey will open the season opposite senior Shareece Wright. Robey, who stands at just 5’8 and 165 pounds, has impressed USC’s coaches with his ball-hawking ability and willingness to mix it up with bigger receivers…which is pretty much all of them. Robey has the mold of a playmaker and a pest in the secondary.
Coming out of high school, he was ranked as the No. 9 cornerback in the country and No. 111 player overall by Rivals.com. Robey committed first to Georgia, but was recruited hard by then coach Lane Kiffin’s staff at Tennessee. When Kiffin made the move to USC, he continued to hound the Frostproof, Florida native. Robey then dumped the Bulldogs for the Trojans just before signing day.
Frankly, Robey is starting because of injuries to other cornerbacks. Junior T.J. Bryant was the likely starter before he got banged up in fall camp, but that doesn’t mean Robey hasn’t impressed.
These two moves really don’t say a whole lot about the situation at USC, other than the fact that the staff is clearly trying to appeal to recruits with the old Trojan style of “the best player will play, regardless of age.”
With the scholarship limitations USC now faces, everyone on the roster will likely play at some point this season. Woods and Robey will just be the first of the freshmen to see the field, but you can bet, many more will follow.