New Signees Built Longtime Friendships

USC's Robert Woods became good friends with Florida native and recent Trojan signee Nelson Agholor. Now, the two talented receivers are now Trojans, along with a slew of other playmakers.

For the past year, USC wide receiver Robert Woods has become good friends with a top-rated recruit on the other end of the country.

Since last summer, the two texted, tweeted and communicated in a variety of ways.

Despite the distance and the few times they were around each other, they became instant friends.

Soon Woods' whole household in Los Angeles, full of five other Trojan football players, felt responsible for this kid. They felt like he was one of them, even though he lived nearly 3000 miles away.

The boy's name? Nelson Agholor, a product of Berkeley Preparatory in Tampa, Fla.

After Wednesday's National Signing Day, Agholor and the group of Trojans that call him "their little bro" won't have to communicate in any other way but face-to-face as Agholor signed on to become one of 12 in USC's latest recruiting class.

"I'm very proud of our class," Woods said. "Strong class, especially for our receivers."

That includes Darreus Rogers, who has already started to feel like a college athlete, showing up to voluntary throwing sessions to get accustomed to his future teammates.

Lane Kiffin and his coaching staff spent countless hours searching for the right players to come into a top-five preseason team, glazing over endless film and constantly making calls. Even Pat Haden did his due diligence.

"I heard Kiffin say he only offered 18," freshman quarterback Cody Kessler said. "They really took their time to make sure we had the right guys. That's pretty cool to see the coaches really care about that."

And boy did they care. The plane miles racked up, to get a guy like Agholor or a player like Leonard Williams, another Florida native.

Williams, a defensive end that could move inside in college, is a four-star recruit and Scout's second-best end in the Sunshine State.

"Fortunately we had Leonard in camp and so we were able to see him up close, how he worked and how he performed in camp. So we're excited about him," Kiffin said.

"I met Leonard once. I think Nickell hosted him. [Robey] was very proud like his recruit came [to USC]," Woods said. "I checked him out…it looked like a steal for us."

There's plenty of players in 2012 to be excited about beside the Florida natives, though. Take incoming linebackers Scott Starr and Jabari Ruffin. The two players reminded USC's coaching staff of the glory days, with bigger bodies and a grittier mentality than the smaller, speedier outside linebackers USC currently starts.

"There's a number of very good conference-type linebackers in our camps and these two guys showed up, and they reminded us of the old days, how it was here when we had our defensive runs with our great linebackers," Kiffin said.

Starr, an early enrollee, has already been coined mini-Cushing and he hopes to turn those expectations into reality.

"I know the attitude Jabari and I are bringing with us to the defense is going to be awesome," Starr said.

"Now it's time to do what we do best and ball out on the field."

It may not be time now, but the college football season looms ever near, and players like Agholor and Williams are surely counting down.

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