Q&A with Keary Colbert

Trojan senior wide receiver Keary Colbert is expected to be one of the leaders for the team this fall. In this interview Colbert discusses the upcoming season as well as a variety of subjects related to USC football including his thoughts on the tradition of the Trojan WR position. Click below for the complete interview:

WeAreSC- It seems like you've improved every season since you've been at USC. Talk about that. Do you evaluate aspects of your game after each season and decide what to work on? How do you go about doing that?

Colbert- "Yeah, at the beginning of each season I set goals for myself, just personal goals, and at the end of the season I evaluate how I did compared to what I set out to do, and then I just go from there. I just try to work on the things that need to be worked on. There's actually a lot of things. Everybody needs work. I just talk with my coaches and just watch film and try to break it down and figure out what needs to be done. That's pretty much the process really."

WeAreSC- Is there anything in particular that you're working on for next year?

Colbert- "I think route running, certain routes I need to work on a little bit more, and being more consistent catching the ball. Certain catches, certain throws, back hip throws, there's a couple other catches where I get funky with my hands and Coach Carroll has kind of pointed that out to me, and I'm trying to work on that. I'm trying to also work at playing at a real high speed. Getting in and out of my breaks at the same speed. Things like that. It's a lot, but you've got to do it, a little at a time and just kind of set your mind to it and just go after it."

WeAreSC- What kind of impact has Coach Carlisle had on both you and the entire team since he arrived?

Colbert- "I mean, a big impact. It's obvious really. If you just look at what our team has done, if you look at our numbers, statistics, little things like that. Those are obvious things. He's done great things for our team as far as helping everybody know what the goals of the program are, what we need to be shooting for, and how to get it done really. It's not just ‘this is what you've got to do.' He's real good about letting us know how to do it, what we're doing wrong, and little things like that, and everybody has bought into the program as in Coach Carroll's program, and that's the thing that makes good teams."

WeAreSC- Go through a typical day in the off-season. What is your average workout like?

Colbert- "I'm with the early group, so we work out in the morning. First of all we start out on the track. We warm up on the track, we do plyo-metrics, we do a lot of form running, like technique type stuff. You know, stretching, things like that. Then we'll go in the weight room and work out. Do our weights and our squats and whatever, bench and all of that stuff, our explosive lifts. And then after our workout, twice a week we'll go out on the track and run. So one day we'll run 40's and one day we'll do 110's. They're all timed by different position groups, so you know you have to get in on a certain time. You know you have to push yourself. After that, you're done pretty much. And then towards the middle of the summer we'll come back around three as a team and meet up and then we'll just throw the ball around, run routes, do one-on-one's, things like that. Towards the end of the summer, we'll really have the whole team out here, call plays, break huddles, and get the little kinks out so we're not just coming into camp just new. So we do little things like that and that's pretty much what goes on."

WeAreSC- With the graduation of Palmer and the three senior running backs, talk about the pressure and responsibilities that's going to be placed on the receiving group next season.

Colbert- "Everybody has a role on the team. We know our role at the wide out position. Personally I don't look at it as pressure, I just look at it as accountability. We're accountable to do our job which in turn will help our team win games. I mean, if they're coming to us, or it's blocking, running, catching, whatever. So it's really about accountability. It's not really pressure, it's just football. In the end that's all it is. We just have to really go out and work hard and continue to do the things we're doing and more, and we should be alright."

WeAreSC- What does the tradition of the wide receiver position at USC mean to you? What do you take from some of the great wide outs who played here?

Colbert- "Yeah, that's funny because I've always had a thing for USC wide receivers. You know, growing up in Oxnard, an hour away, I always knew all the guys. I've always had my favorites. Everybody's a little different. I like little aspects of everybody's game. It's just a great tradition and a great group to be associated with. When I came in, I had all of the pictures on my wall, the wide receivers that played here. From Lynn Swan, John Jackson, Johnnie Morton, Curtis Conway, Keyshawn, Travis Hannah, Windrell, R.J., Billy, Larry Parker…I mean I could go on for days…Erik Affholter, you know what I'm saying, all of those guys. That was my thing. I was coming up here a lot in high school and saw guys like Windrell and Malaefou run routes. I was taking as many mental pictures as I could and I was trying to learn from how he was running his routes and he was telling me little things. So I was just real big coming in on SC's group of wide receivers that they've had in the past, and it's a real big deal to me to be a part of that and just try to leave my mark, whatever that may be. But it's just a real good thing to be a part of."

WeAreSC- Talk about your role as a leader next season. What are you going to be looking to bring to the team in that regard?

Colbert- "Just the work ethic really. I've never been a verbal guy. That's been from Pop Warner, to high school, to here. Even though the roles have changed over the years, I don't like to change as a person. I accept my role but I don't like to change as a person. I like to stay within myself and just do what I have to do to help the team win. But I know that I'm a senior and that there's going to be guys looking for me and that there's going to be guys that I'm going to have to help out, and I do that. But as far as rah-rah, this-that-and-the other, that's not me. I'm just the type to do what I have to do and if I know someone is messing up and he needs help on something, I'm just the type of guy that'll let him know what he has to do. That's the only thing that I'm comfortable with doing and I think that I can help this team with. But it's weird because last year our team captains were not the most vocal guys in the world, but people respected that. You don't have to necessarily feed off of someone saying something, you just feed off what they do. So if that's my role and if that's what has to be, I think that I can do it just the same as they did it, without being verbal."

WeAreSC- Last year you moved into the same house as Carson Palmer and I know you guys spent a lot of time working out together, similar to when Windrell was a senior. How did that affect your play on the field?

Colbert- "It worked out great I think, in the end when I look back on it. The summer is one of the most important times in the college football season I believe, because that's when your team is built. That's when you come together as a team and you do little things. We were working out. We were throwing the ball around four times a week maybe, three times a week, and just building camaraderie really, just at the house. If we weren't practicing we were just playing video games, just being competitive against each other, and just bonding really. So when it was time to play, it was a lot easier for things to get done and everybody was just more comfortable with each other and it just helped out a lot really."

WeAreSC- On the same topic of leadership, you're going to have a new quarterback behind center when you open up against Auburn. In the huddle and in the locker room, how do you ease the role for the quarterback?

Colbert- "Like I said as far as accountability goes, everybody's talking about the quarterback deal and how it's going to be, but I feel that if the wide receivers do their job and the o-line protects well then it'll make the job easier for the quarterback. So that's my mindset. I'm here to try to make their job easier until they get comfortable enough to hopefully be what Carson was to our team. So I'm taking that as a personal challenge to get the job done, to make their job easy, and I'm going to bring that to the wide receivers in camp. We have to make their job easy because they're going to take a lot of heat for a lot of things, if things don't go right or as expected, but we have to take that pressure off them and just do our job really."

WeAreSC- Of course, one of the big topics during spring ball was the quarterback position and who might emerge as the starter. As a receiver, would a quarterback by committee be harder for you to adjust to, or would you rather have a starter named as soon as possible and have that one guy back there throwing you the ball?

Colbert- "I mean, in the end it doesn't really affect us that much. The main thing with the quarterback is they just need to know where to get the ball, when to get the ball in certain places. We can't control that. The only thing we can do is run our routes. That's not going to change. So I don't think it matters who is the quarterback as far as what we have to do. We have to run our routes the same if it's anybody out there. I think the only issue is the guy needing to know where the ball needs to go on certain reads and this-that-and-the other, and that's the only issue. It's not about having to name a guy before camp starts, because it doesn't really matter when we're in there who's the quarterback. Our job's not going to change."

WeAreSC- Are there any adjustments you have to make as a receiver in catching a ball thrown by a right hander like Cassel as opposed to a lefty like Leinart?

Colbert- "The ball spins opposite but other than that, no. If we're going to consider ourselves receivers, we catch the ball regardless of which way it spins, or who's throwing it, or how they throw it…We can't let little things like that affect us. We just have to go out there and do what we've got to do."

WeAreSC- With yourself and Mike Williams at the two receiver slots, you guys present a pretty daunting task for opposing DB's to handle. Are you two the best receiving duo in the country?

Colbert- "Yeah, there's a lot of groups of receivers at different schools that are good, but we pride ourselves on trying to be one of the best or trying to be the best. So, it's really nothing to talk about. It's not about what I say, it's about what we go out there and do. So I don't really like to get off into stuff like that because it doesn't really matter what I say or what my opinion is about what we do."

WeAreSC- How do the two of you interact and complement each other out on the field?

Colbert- "On the field we're kind of like, I don't want to say opposites, but like you said, we're a good complement. He's big. I'm not that big. We're both compatible as far as speed goes on the field. He can run the long routes. I can run the long routes. So it's a good balance but at the same time we have a lot of different characteristics, like little things like quickness or even just releases, or moves, the way we run our routes, and get in and out of our routes, so it's a good compliment."

WeAreSC- A couple of high profile receivers signed with USC in Whitney Lewis and Steve Smith. What were some of the major differences that stood out to you, going from the high school level to college that you had to adjust to, that these guys are going to face?

Colbert- "Well my freshman year, probably the hardest thing to do was just to know what to do. You know, how to read defenses and break routes off, or do little things like that. Because in the end, football is football, and once you get past that mentally and you understand it's just football, just like high school and all of the other things, you're going to be fine. I mean, just knowing what to do and getting that experience and confidence really. It's all about confidence. That's one thing that I think me and Mike can help them with. First of all, they should know that it can be done, to come in here and play, because over the last four years it's been done with Kareem, Marcell, Steve Stevenson, next year with me, and then with Mike last year. So there's that sense of hope that you know it can be done. That should give them confidence anyway and then once they finally get out there and do it, and get comfortable and get adjusted, and doing what they have to do, that brings more confidence and then they'll just become their self and be great players like they're destined to be."

WeAreSC- In high school you played for a Hueneme team that primarily ran the ball. Specifically talk about how big of a change that was for you to come from that to a more wide open passing game?

Colbert- "Not to knock high school football, but I don't really think that what you do in high school matters in college, because you can look at little things like me not catching a lot of balls in high school or Mike not catching a lot of balls in high school, and then you see guys when they come to college. It's really not about what you do in high school. High school is what you're stuck with really. You do what you have to do. You don't get to put yourself in positions. I chose to come to SC. I had to go to Hueneme, that's where I lived. I didn't get to choose those coaches and that offense, but it was just what I was dealt with. I mean, not to knock it, I had fun there. But when you come to college it's just about doing what you can do. When I was in high school I was still running routes and catching balls. It really doesn't matter."

WeAreSC- There's going to be an interesting freshman coming in, JD Booty. Have you had a chance to meet him yet?

Colbert- "Yeah, I talked with him when he came out here, I think it was during spring practice. And I chatted with his brother a little bit and I met his father. He's coming from a football family so I kind of expect that he's going to be a little more prepared than any average high school prospect coming into college because he has that background and it will really help him through. I heard he has his brother and dad on him, helping him. So I think he'll adjust just fine."

WeAreSC- You've played on some teams, like last season's, where you guys really had a lot of success. But you've also played on some teams in the past that struggled out there. What do you think was the difference in making that transition?

Colbert- "It's just about execution really. It's about guys handling their business, their assignment, what needs to be done. It comes down to eleven one-on-one battles on the field. You get on a team where eleven guys win their battles, nine times out of ten, you're going to have a good play. Nine times out of ten, if you continue that the whole game, you're going to win the game. That's all. I think that last year we just had a group of guys, all of those guys just strived to do what they had to do. That was compliments of all of our coaches also. To put us in the positions to make those plays, and schooled us during the week, you know, the film and all of the meeting. It's just all about execution really and handling business."

WeAreSC- How has Coach Carroll and his enthusiasm affected you guys?

Colbert- "In a positive way obviously, because football is a sport where that type of nature is needed, that type of enthusiasm. It just makes a lot of the guys more comfortable. Not lax, but more comfortable and more able to do what they're capable of doing. There's a lot less stress going on on the field about missing assignments, or say for instance dropping the ball or something. It's always positive, and that's the key."

WeAreSC- One new addition to the receiving group last season was Coach Kiffin. What kind of impact did he have?

Colbert- "Coach Kiffin comes from a football family and he has a good background. He knows so much about the game and he's young which helped us as a group last year. Over the years we've learned our fair share of things from the different coaches, but Coach Kiffin, he just knows so much about defenses, and offenses, and he's always seeking to learn something new. It's just little things, and he knows how to get his players going and things like that."

WeAreSC- What does it mean to you to be a student at USC?

Colbert- "It means a lot. I think a lot of athletes don't realize what our opportunity is, being a student here. Sometimes I take it for granted, being a student here, but in the end it's been a good experience and I think when I look back on it, I think I had a good time. It's a great group to be a part of, to be associated with, the Trojan family. There's so many things in California or just anywhere that being a part of this University will help you with or put you in positions or whatever."


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