As expected, after USC’s Sun Bowl loss on Monday, stand out junior wide receiver Robert Woods announced his intention to enter the NFL draft this spring. This comes as no surprise to anyone paying attention to USC football this year.
According to his official USC bio, Woods, in his USC career, has 176 catches for 2,084 yards (11.8 avg.) with 21 TDs, 55 kickoff returns for 1,364 yards (24.8 avg.) with one TD, 14 punt returns for 122 yards (8.7 avg.) and 13 carries for 76 yards (5.8 avg.). He has 3,646 all-purpose yards on 258 plays (14.1 avg.).
He ranks fourth on USC's career kickoff return list (1,364 yards), and he is tied for sixth on the career pass-catching ladder (176 receptions). He has nine 100-yard receiving games in his career, including twice with 200 yards and five career outings with double-digit receptions. He has 25 career starts.
In 2011, his sophomore season, Robert Woods caught 111 passes and was an All-American as well as a Biletnikoff award finalist. However, in 2012, the Trojan offense tended to favor fellow standout wide receiver Marqise Lee. Woods had just 76 catches this season for 813 yards, while Lee had 118 catches and won the Biletnikoff award—becoming the first Trojan wideout to do so.
Even casual fans of USC football could see that it was in Woods’ best interest to enter the draft this year, while scouts and GMs still remember his amazing 2011 season. His NFL draft evaluation has predicted he will go in the second round, making his transition to playing on Sundays a lucrative one.
In a post-game Sun Bowl interview, Woods announced his intention to go pro. ESPN’s Pedro Moura, a USC alumnus himself, then went on to quote Woods on Twitter, resulting in a firestorm between the two that showcases the angst that plagues the Trojan fanbase this season:
Robert Woods: "If the coaches wanted to keep me another year, they would’ve probably got me the ball."— Pedro Moura (@PedroMoura) January 1, 2013
@pedromoura you know that's not how I said it...but way to phrase me to look like a -hole .— Robert Woods (@HeismanWoods) January 1, 2013
@pedromoura and I said I was grateful for everything this coaches did for me...so don't make it it seem like I'm firing at the coaches— Robert Woods (@HeismanWoods) January 1, 2013
Moura, to give him some credit, was communicating on Twitter, where the 140 allotted characters the service allows doesn’t leave a lot of room for nuance. We won’t know whether Moura was twisting Woods’ words, or simply trying to be Twitter efficient. Moura did go on to post the full audio of the interview.
This in-fighting and derision within the USC program, it’s fanbase, alumni and beat reporters, is, in my opinion, indicative of the culture the current coaching promotes. This garbage wasn’t so prevalent during the Pete Carroll era; however, of course, everyone loves a winner.
Something has to change—that is for certain. Luckily, Robert Woods has a bright future ahead of him, and, on behalf of the Trojan Family, I want to wish him the very best of luck. I look forward to watching him play on Sundays.