Robey growing into role as leader

After posting four interceptions as a true freshman, Robey is doing everything possible to improve.

Nickell Robey has been on the USC campus for less than one year, so even he finds it a bit surprising to now be regarded as an emerging team leader.

"It surely does because the players, they are starting to look up to me, look at me at one of the key guys on the team," Robey said at Loker Stadium. "I got to step up the leadership, make sure that I'm doing the right thing at all times."

Then again, Robey led the Trojans with four interceptions as a true freshman last season. His 48 tackles rank third on the team among returning players.

Robey considers his first year a success, especially after struggling in his first few games.

"By week three I cleaned up some of my techniques and making sure I played hard every play on film so when my opponent looked at me, he'll know I'm not a slacker and just don't play certain plays," he said. "Right now I'm just taking everything one day at a time and it's all coming to me."

Now with some time to reflect on the 2010 campaign, Robey has a chance to address some of the flaws he identified in his game.

"What jumped out the most to me, what I could have done better was coming out of breaks, my man-to-man coverage, just cleaning up my feet against big tall receivers. I feel like if I can do that, I feel like I'll be a complete cover guy," he said.

Redshirt freshman Kyle Prater was supposed to challenge Robey as that big physical receiver this spring before suffering a broken foot. Still, the Frostproof, Fla. native is embracing players-only workouts as a chance to improve before spring practice begins March 22.

"This is where it starts, the offseason. Getting everybody together offseason so when the season starts, it's a breeze."

The voluntary throwing session held on Presidents Day included special guests, incoming freshmen receivers George Farmer and Marqise Lee. But the two talented members of the Class of 2011 struggled against Robey.

"It was nice seeing the incoming freshmen come here," Robey said. "It's a pleasure. I can't wait for them to come and compete."

It turns out Robey already had a bit of a scouting report, courtesy of Robert Woods.

Woods starred at Gardena Serra alongside Farmer and Lee, winning a CIF state championship in 2009.

"Me and him (Robert) are roommates, so we share a lot of advice," Robey said. "We spend a lot of time talking, covering things we couldn't work on in the season."


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