You may have not heard the name Robert Woods much before this season, but the Carson, California native is putting together possibly one of the best seasons in NCAA Division I Football.
Don’t take this as comparing Woods to those before him, but the University of Southern California sophomore has already put his name in the same breath as many greats before him.
Before he donned Trojan Cardinal & Gold for the 2010 season, Woods was one of the most-touted recruits coming out of Gardena’s Junipero Serra High School.
After the Serra Cavaliers dominated its way to a CIF Championship, Woods was in the process of finishing off his his school career.
His first season in a Trojan uniform showed sparks of what the Coliseum faithful were in store for over the next 3-4 years.
In that freshman season, with quarterback Matt Barkley entering his sophomore season, as well as Lane Kiffin’s first as head coach at USC, Woods picked up 792 yards on 65 catches, an average of 12.2 yards per catch, for 6 touchdowns.
The bulk of Woods’ damage his freshman year was done in October, with the freshman gaining 399 yards on 26 carries for 5 of TD’s. During that month, Woods and the Trojans hosted Washington, Cal and Oregon while visiting Stanford for the lone road contest that month.
In the seasons last five games of his freshman season, Woods gained 218 yards on 26 receptions, as the Trojans went 3-2 and finished the season 8-5 in the first of two sanctioned seasons.
So far, 2011 has been nothing short of memorable for all eyes watching USC Football.
In the season opener against Minnesota, Sept. 3, Woods started the season off with a bang, grabbing 17 passes for 177 yards and all three Trojan TD’s in a 19-17 victory.
Woods did not have nearly the same impact on the USC passing game in the next two games, catching 8 passes in each game for 102 and 83 yards, respectively, in a 23-14 win over Utah and a 38-17 win over Syracuse.
In those two games, Woods only scored against Syracuse.
On the road visiting Arizona State, Woods again hauled in 8 passes, this time for 131 yards and no scores in a 43-22 loss that saw the Trojans turn the ball over 4 times and fail to convert two more times.
Maybe it’s October, but when Woods and the Trojans hosted the Arizona Wildcats last Saturday, which happened to be the first day in October, the sophomore had a monster day.
On a record-setting day, the Carson, Calif., product picked up 255 yards on just 14 catches and 2 TD’s, the first of two an 82-yard hookup between he and Barkley.
On that drive, the Trojans drove 91 yards on two plays, with the first play going through Woods as well, a 9-yard completion from Barkley.
The second of Woods’ touchdowns came on the first possession of the second half, when Barkley found Woods for a 28-yard hookup, putting the Trojans up 34-12. The Wildcats made the game tighter than anticipated, outscoring USC 29-14 after that point, but the Trojans held on for the 48-41 victory.
Through the seasons first five games, the Trojans are 4-1, and Woods has already come within 45 yards of surpassing his freshman year total - on 55 receptions. He had 65 in 2010.
So far, the season has seen Woods break a record that has sat for 18 years, Johnnie Morton’s single-game reception record of 15.
Against Arizona, Woods combined with the rest of the Trojan receiving corps to help Barkley break Carson Palmer’s 2002 yardage record, as the sophomore QB threw for 468 yards. Palmer’s record, set in his Heisman Trophy season, was 448.
The Trojans have the week off before traveling north to take on the 3-1 Cal Golden Bears on Thursday Oct. 13 at AT&T Park, home of MLB’s San Francisco Giants.
As the Cal defense gives up 24.3 pts/game on average, it may not matter, as this week, Cal visits Eugene in a huge test for the Golden Bear defense against Oregon, before hosting the Trojans, who come in averaging 317.8 yards through the air so far in 2011.
This may be just another game on a schedule that does not lead past November, but these Trojans may be one of the best teams not many are giving a chance, especially as they cannot participate in postseason play.
One thing to note: he changed his number after his freshman season from 13 to 2, switching to the number he wore in high school.