Nickell Impressed with Shaw's Ability

Veteran defensive back Nickell Robey has seen a lot of talent out of Florida transfer Josh Shaw, and believes he has a serious shot at the spot opposite him.

Nickell Robey is a lock for team captain next season.

On USC's relatively young team, the soon-to-be junior cornerback has made a name for himself both as a leader and as a player.

And perhaps, maybe, as a scout.

"Right now to be honest I see Josh Shaw looking really good," Robey said. "I like what I'm seeing out of him."

Shaw, a defensive back that transferred to USC from Florida this offseason, moved back to California to be closer to a sick family member. The Palmdale, Calif. native can be utilized as both a corner or safety, Robey said.

If Shaw's hardship waiver to the NCAA is accepted, Robey expects him to be a serious threat this fall.

"I cannot leave out Isiah Wiley and I cannot leave out Anthony Brown because those guys did a lot for us last season," Robey said. "So there's going to be a lot of competition.

"I just can't wait to see it."

Robey believes Shaw's dip in the SEC will reap dividends if he can make a push at starting corner next season.

"I know Isiah and Anthony Brown are going to come strong and I know Josh, coming from Florida, he has that competitive nature so seeing him come in is going to bring a whole different style to the defense," he said.

With incoming junior college safety Gerald Bowman likely getting a look at safety opposite veteran T.J. McDonald, the game experience and physicality of Shaw and Robey at cornerback could prove a lethal foursome to opposing offenses.

But Robey believes he still has work to do, still has improvements to make. And he's using an offensive player as his gold standard.

"I want to fool the minds like Matt Barkley. I got to fool them, I got to disguise, I got to show a lot of things that I normally don't show," Robey said. "I believe that's what gives me the competitive edge over quarterbacks and offensive coordinators that are watching me."

Robey hopes to camouflage his intentions more in 2012. He channeled Harry Houdini a bit last season, but wants to become a lockdown corner for the Trojans and believes he can take his abilities to new levels.

"Coach let me do a lot of that at the end of the season. He let me do a lot of it and it worked out well. So we're just going to pick up where we left off."

In the meantime, Robey continues to extend his leadership. Nearly every player, no matter their position, uses Robey as a soundboard. He's all about helping, enthusiastic about teaching. He won't preach or chew you out, but he will force you to bring your best game.

Because he always does.

"I feel like anybody can come up to me from any position and they can get leadership from me. I know what I'm doing, I've been here for a while so I feel real confident and the guys trust me so it makes it easier for me when the new guys see the other guys coming to me, it makes my job easier. I don't have to prove myself," he said.

With the handful of new defensive backs making their way into Trojanland in the next six months or so, Robey said the competition is going to get steep and the defense is looking stronger than ever.

But no matter the amount of work they put on the field, Robey will not yet knight them as "Trojans."

"No net yet they're not Trojans. They got to earn it," he said. "They got to get through this spring, they got to get through this whole summer and training camp.

"Then that first game they'll be a Trojan."

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