Print and Go Back ESPN.com: USC [Print without images]

Wednesday, December 21, 2011
Top 10 performers, No. 3: Woods

By Pedro Moura

We're doing a series on the Trojans' top 10 performers in 2011, ranking the team's best players based on their overall value to the team last season.

The first seven players, in descending order, were T.J. McDonald, Christian Tupou, Curtis McNeal, Nick Perry, Dion BaileyMarqise Lee and Nickell Robey. Here, now, is No. 3: receiver Robert Woods.

Woods is an incredibly valuable player, a guy who very rarely gets thrown off his game and fails to produce.

In 11 of the Trojans' 12 games this season, the sophomore receiver produced at least five catches -- and that's as he battled ankle, shoulder and elbow injuries, the first of which has already required surgery this season. His final stats were impressive, too, with 111 catches for 1,292 yards and 15 touchdowns.

So why is only No. 3 on this list? We'll get to that in full detail Thursday when we reveal our No. 2 player. But, to summarize it, it has to deal with overall value to the team: As in, which one player's absence would cause the most problems in a vacuum?

Woods isn't that guy, as partly evidenced by what the Trojans did in his one game with less than five catches. Against Washington, when he totaled just five yards on two grabs, USC still won handily, 40-13. His four worst yardage totals all came in wins.

He was a great decoy in that game and others, to be sure. Marqise Lee wouldn't have had the freshman season he had in 2011 without Woods. And he's an incredible player, one who could very well make a serious run at the Heisman Trophy next season, whether or not quarterback Matt Barkley returns for his senior season.

2012 will almost certainly be Woods' farewell tour, too, as the junior to-be will have little left to prove at the college level. He doesn't have the size NFl teams like to see in top receivers, but he has just about everything else.

Barkley or no Barkley, Woods could chase 1,500 yards and 20 touchdowns next season, especially if he's healthy for all or a significant portion of the season. And he has a great chance to be the team's most valuable player when we look back after the 2012 season.

Check back Tuesday for our No. 2 performer.