Carswell Feeds Off Woods' Spotlight

The talk of USC's receiving core in the last year has started and ended with Robert Woods. But Brandon Carswell isn't worried by the hype. He just wants to play.

Brandon Carswell thought the message was for someone else.

That in itself sent a message about the little-used USC wide receiver.

"Who, me?" Carswell responded when asked for an interview request.

Yes, Brandon, you.

A year removed from having one foot cemented right "outside the door," ready to walk away from the Trojan family and head to Cincinnati, Carswell is ready to thrive at USC after recently being named the team's starting split end.

His future is no longer in limbo.

"He's been here five years," said Carswell's brother, Bobby. "A lot of people don't understand that just because you haven't heard his name doesn't mean he hasn't played."

Brandon Carswell elevates to make the catch.
Carswell has been reduced to afterthought by Trojan playmaker after Trojan playmaker, getting over-recruited and watching stars not only emerge, but shine on the national stage.

So far, that's been just fine to the 6-foot-1 Milpitas, Calif., product.

So far.

"I've always been an under-the-radar type of person," Carswell said. "I don't really care too much for the spotlight. It's just never really been me. It has nothing to do with confidence or anything like that I just always wanted to be the guy who worked hard and you don't have to really talk about me."

But if all the Woods hype translates into double-coverages, we might soon be hearing a lot from Carswell.

And he has increasingly seen more repetitions the longer he has been at USC. Last year, Carswell had 16 catches for 205 yards, including a touchdown against Virginia. The two previous seasons he caught a total of just six passes for 28 yards.

But even though a starting gig is a big leap for anybody, it might not take much adjustment for the laid-back Carswell.

"Last year, he played more than he ever had and he always seemed calm and collected," former USC wide receiver Brice Butler said. "He has excitement in general but he's normally composed [on the field]."

Don't confuse poise with passiveness, though.

Carswell wanted to play, and he wants to play, and he can't wait to play for the Trojans come fall.

Lane Kiffin initially recruited Carswell in 2006, a four-star recruit, and Kiffin was the one who contacted Carswell's parents four years later--before he had even talked to Carswell himself--to explain why their son shouldn't transfer.

"Coach Kiffin really put it in their minds that I had a chance to play here," Carswell said. "[That] with the new system he was bringing in, I'd have a lot of opportunities."

Of course, incoming star recruit George Farmer out of Serra and redshirt freshman Kyle Prater are going to want opportunities to play, too. Carswell isn't worried about being the hot new thing, though. Instead, he's hitting the gym and working on routes.

"He doesn't mind [not being talked about]," the elder Carswell said. "He probably likes that. Hey everyone's talking about everyone else, but his play is talking about how he should be out there."

Carswell has been patient, waiting, hoping, longing for his chance.

After watching both his cousin, Boise State's Austin Pettis, get picked to the St. Louis Rams and his best friend, former Trojan Malcolm Smith, get snagged by the Seattle Seahawks in April's NFL Draft, Carswell has seen what it takes to get to the top.

"Just putting on the pads again and going out there showing that I have the confidence to back up my experience, just knowing that they can count on me--that's really exciting," he said.

Carswell's time to excel has arrived. But he doesn't need bells or whistles. His game should be statement enough.

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