Position Preview - Wide Receivers

A look at the wide receiver spot for the 2001 Trojans

With the increased activity expected in the passing game there might not be another position on the field that is going to need to step up as a unit as much as the wide receivers. The Norm Chow offense will often utilize 4 or 5 wide receiver sets and so it is reasonable to assume that we will go very deep in the rotation as well as work other players from RB and TE into the pass patterns.
 
The top skill player is expected to be Kareem Kelly and he has the potential to be one of the elite game breakers in all of college football. Kareem has an impressive combination of speed and acrobatic athleticism which was on full display in his freshman year when he set the all-time USC mark for catches as a freshman and was named Pac-10 freshman of the year. His production and demeanor slipped last season but that can be traced as much to the transition of position coaches as anything. Kareem is one of the more coachable players around and he responds very well to coaches who are demanding with the good news for Trojan fans being that he seems to have a good relationship with new WR coach Kirby Wilson. Kareem is in shape and participating in summer workouts which is so important to help achieve the results we want to see from him this season.

Almost as important as the resurgence of Kelly is the return from injury by Marcell Allmond. Marcell brings a physical presence to the receiving corps and he was off to a tremendous start last year before suffering a serious leg injury. He looked very good catching the ball in spring practice and the world class junior decathlete is also an excellent blocker in addition to being a big play threat as a receiver. If you ask the players on the team who they think will step up and have a big season one name you will hear a lot is Keary Colbert. Colbert caught 33 passes last season after playing in a running system in high school which limited his pass catching experience. Keary has outstanding natural abilities and is close to 200 lbs right now so as he improves and eliminates his freshman mistakes he should become one of the top receivers in the conference before his career is through.

Steve Stevenson found himself in Paul Hackett's doghouse last year after reporting to camp out of shape and it took injuries to other players for him to get an opportunity at the end of the season but when he did he took advantage of it. Steve led the team by averaging almost 19 yards per catch and he brings good height but needs to be more consistent with his routes in this precise offense. Sandy Fletcher was named scout team offensive player of the year at WR two years ago after making the transition from DB and he is a good enough athlete to be named All-CIF in basketball in high school. He has looked good in summer drills and if he can step up and become a solid #5 WR in this offense that would go a long way toward the success of the team.

The Trojans had a nice surprise last year as Matt Nickels made the transition from walk-on to contributor and this year D. Hale could play a similar role. Hale would have seen playing time last season if he hadn't left the team at the end of fall camp but he is a solid player who could easily become part of the rotation. Two junior college transfers arrive to give depth and experience in Grant Mattos and Devin Pitts. Mattos is 6-2, 210 with 68 catches and 13 touchdowns last season at Foothill College and the coaches have raved about his potential. Pitts is tall and lanky at 6-4, 185 from El Camino College and attended several spring ball practices and is taking part in summer drills to be ready. Frank Candela was brought to USC primarily to serve as a return specialist but the former minor league baseball player will also look to fill in at this spot. If needed there are also incoming freshman William Buchanan and walk-on Greg Carlson but the coaches would love to redshirt both players.

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