Entering the 2010-2011 season, the Trojans anticipated that three incoming freshmen–Robert Woods, Kyle Prater, and Markeith Ambles–would provide the talent and athletic ability needed to stretch the field and make the USC passing attack a dangerous one. After three months of football, only one of those players, Woods, proved to make a difference. And boy what a difference he made.
Earlier this month, the Pacific 10 Conference officially named Robert Woods the Offensive Freshman of the Year. The Pac-10 also named Woods to its First Team Specialists squad as a kickoff returner. The distinctions put the cherry on top of a very impressive first year for the young Trojan.
When I think about Woods’s freshman season, three things stand out. First, his 97-yard kickoff return touchdown against Minnesota in week three; this was his first big play as a Trojan and really put the kid on the map as a special teams weapon. Second, I remember his beastly performance against Stanford in week six. On that day, Woods caught 12 passes for 224 yards and 3 touchdowns; he literally was unstoppable. Finally, I remember how he responded to his career game against Stanford: by dominating California the very next week. Against the Bears, Woods caught 7 passes for 116 yards and another 2 touchdowns, which gave him 19 catches for 340 yards and 5 touchdowns in back-to-back weeks against above-average defensive teams.
If I had to pick on Woods for anything, it would be consistency. Outside of those two weeks, Woods did not surpass 100 yards receiving in a game and only caught one touchdown.
Going forward, Woods has a chance to become a big star in college football. Against Stanford and Cal, we saw that Woods has the skill and courage to be a go-to receiver. Furthermore, the chemistry that he built this season with quarterback Matt Barkley is only going to get stronger over time. Finally, his pure athletic ability (speed) makes him a threat to go the distance whenever he touches the ball, whether as a receiver or returner. According to cfbstats.com, Woods ranked 28th in the nation last season in all-purpose yards per game (139.8). I compare him to current Philadelphia Eagles star receiver/returner and former Cal Bear DeSean Jackson.
Take a look back on some of Woods’s best plays from his freshman campaign: