USC cornerback Nickell Robey is arguably the hardest-working player on the Trojans' roster.
The 5-8 physical specimen has improved drastically since arriving on campus two years ago this month and has put himself in position to be one of the top corners selected in either of the next two NFL drafts.
He continues to grow, this summer taking on an additional leadership role after getting back from track in the spring. We caught up with him after a Trojans' throwing session this week.
Q: Did doing track this spring help you? Obviously you didn't get to commit to it fully and even got pulled out of one of the events to focus on football, but do you still think you gained something from it? Marqise Lee and D.J. Morgan both said that they did.
A: Being on the track team did make me faster. It opened up my legs. I was way more in shape. I had endurance. When you put work into something and you keep working on it, eventually you're going to get something out of it. Me and Marqise Lee, that's what we did. We said we were gonna do it and we did it, and we made the best of it.
Q: You're an NBA fan. You know that some of the best NBA players play in the Olympics every four years and praise the experience there competing for their country. But a lot of times when they come back they show signs of fatigue during their next regular season. Is that sort of like how it can be with track, as a football player?
A: It's true. It's great doing stuff like that, but everything pays a toll. Over time, it pays a toll on you. When you're out there and then you get home and lay back down, that might be the last time you probably gonna move for the day. You gonna go right to sleep. And that's what I do. When I'm down, I'm just down. I just eat right and sleep -- always gotta make sure I have my sleep. That's the biggest part. But yeah, you're doing all this good stuff, but, at the same time, it pays a price on your body.
Q: Did you get to go home to Florida yet this summer?
A: Not yet. I'm gonna try to go home when we get on the break for Fourth of July week. And I'm gonna get that week in, and that's it.
Q: That's it?
A: That's it. That's all. I already know. My family knows. Every day is gonna be the life. Every day is gonna have to be the life. I'm gonna miss Florida. I already know we're gonna go to a bowl game -- I got plans on that -- so I'm already in for it. My family's gonna come out here and visit me, though.
Q: Well, there could also be a bowl game in Florida, right?
A: Right. But I don't want to speak on it. I don't want to speak on that.
Q: You say, 'that's it.' But you control whether or not this is your final college season, whether or not you get to have another week or two next summer to go home and relax before going back to school. Do you anticipate making a decision on that at some point?
A: Yeah, at some point I'm going to make a decision. It's no guarantee either way. After the season's over, I'll sit down and get at a round table and discuss my options.
Q: Do you feel like you've put yourself in good position for the next level so far?
A: I feel like I've made steady progress. I feel like I got better each and every game, each and every practice. I got better in the weight room, got stronger in the weight room. You always have to expect yourself to do the best job you can, and I feel like I've been doing that. At the same time, I've been learning. You live and you learn, and I've also been doing that. It's been great being here at USC. I love USC.
Q: You've still only been at USC for two years, exactly 24 months -- not that long. Do you consider this school your home?
A: Yes. I feel like USC has provided me with everything I needed, with whatever I needed. I did my classes here. I used my resources here, met new people, met new friends and opened myself up to a whole new life. I'm thankful and grateful for that and I don't complain.
Q: Are you on pace to graduate in four years?
A: Definitely. I think I'll be able to graduate in three and a half years, easy. I'm taking three summer classes right now and I'll know for sure pretty soon.
Q: Is that important to you? How many people in your family have college degrees?
A: Very important. On my mom's side, it's a list, most of them went to Florida A&M and some went to Florida State. But on my dad's side, it's nobody. So I'm keeping on her legacy.