Robert Woods is adjusting quickly

August, 16, 2010
8/16/10
7:45
PM PT
It could be argued that Robert Woods was the least heralded of the star-studded trio of freshmen receivers in the USC class of 2010 at the start of fall camp.

Kyle Prater had joined the team in the spring, and -- despite being hampered by a variety of nagging injuries -- impressed the coaching staff. Markeith Ambles had gathered up a whole lot of attention via his tweets and school-switching prior to Signing Day.

Woods was silent. He didn't enroll early, he didn't announce his decision on national television -- he didn't even waver from his commitment to USC when Pete Carroll resigned and Lane Kiffin replaced him.

He has, however, been the most impressive of the three through two and a half weeks of fall camp -- by far.

Displaying impressive body control day in and day out and a well-developed chemistry with both Matt Barkley and Mitch Mustain, the 6-foot-1, 185-pound speedster has earned comparisons from Kiffin to Steve Smith and Keary Colbert -- on and off the field.

Monday, the 18-year-old Woods talked with the media for the first time. There was an underlying trend of the questions asked: How have you adjusted so quickly to life as a Trojan?

"What helped me was living not too far, I got to come up here and practice during the summer throwing sessions sometimes," Woods said, looking calm and composed. "That helped me a lot to get to know some of the plays, read some of the corners. Once I got to the field I already knew what they were doing and that's helped me in camp."

Woods says he has gone to Barkley for advice on how to get on the field during his freshman year. As of right now, Woods is -- along with Ambles and De'Von Flournoy -- the backup to Ronald Johnson at flanker. But his play could eventually warrant time as the slot receiver or even as the starting flanker in a two-receiver set with Johnson playing across him at split end.

That's all contingent on Woods knowing what to do on the field. But, judging on comments from Kiffin and his teammates on Woods' tendency to eat meals while reading his playbook, that shouldn't be too much of a problem.

"My playbook is very important," Woods says. "It's the football Bible."

"You gotta know your plays. You don't know your plays, you don't play."

That has been more of a problem for Ambles, a surprisingly strong 215-pounder who has been inconsistent with his route-running. Woods is very complementary of his fellow freshman.

"Markeith is putting in work," Woods said. 'He's great competition. He was All-American so I know he knows the same things I do. I try to help him and he tries to help me. It's a great competition here -- we compete in everything."

Asked about his team-clocked 40-yard dash time, Woods recalled it being in the 4.6 range -- not an overly impressive time considering his height and weight combination.

Then, Woods said, Kiffin saw him running a route in practice and said something must have been wrong with the original time.

It was too slow. Woods is faster than that.

"That was good news," Woods said, laughing.

***

Here's video of Woods' meeting with the media:

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