2003 Trojans - WR preview

Mike Williams

The wide receiver postion should be an area of strength for the Trojans this season with an experienced duo returning, an exciting newcomer sliding over from defense and a pair of freshmen who should provide an immediate impact. It's not too many times a school graduates the all-time leading receiver and yet improves the position the following year but that is the case for USC.

Returning Players

Keary Colbert (6-1.5, 207), Mike Williams (6-4.75, 230), Greig Carlson (5-10, 195), Jason Mitchell (6-0.5, 199), Chris McFoy (6-1, 188), Sandy Fletcher (6-0.5, 192), D Hale (6-1, 183), Justin Wyatt (5-9, 180)

Incoming players

Whitney Lewis, Steve Smith

Key losses

Kareem Kelly, Grant Mattos

Position breakdown

Keary Colbert and Mike Williams will need to set the tone for the offense early in the season as the Trojans break in new starters at QB and RB. The way they handle that role will be as important as anything they do on the field and that's saying a lot considering this might be the finest pair of receivers in the country. Colbert is the steadying senior, the consummate professional who does all the right things and has the respect of his teammates. He's improved every season at USC and is poised to get a shot at the career reception mark (204) set last year by Kareem Kelly. Keary has terrific game speed and has developed into a dependable ball catcher. Williams is the man-child, a young player who will naturally be looked to as a leader due to the sheer scope of his talent. Whoever wins the quarterback job will be wise to throw the ball in his direction a lot. One key this season will be to see how Williams adjusts to being a primary target for opposing defenses. Mike shattered NCAA freshman receiving records and if he stays healthy and continues to mature, both on and off the field, it's easy to think that his assault on the record books has only just begun.

The Trojans needed a third receiving option to step up during spring ball and it was preferred that it be a player with speed. Pete Carroll took a shot by moving Justin Wyatt over from corner (a move that Justin had long desired) and Wyatt responded with an impressive performance which left little doubt that he can be an exciting playmaker. He showed the best moves we've seen since R. Jay Soward and has a dazzling element to his game. Justin put the ball on the ground a few times, a common problem with players adjusting to a new position, but if that situation can be rectified the coaches have found another gem for Norm Chow to utilize in a variety of ways.

With three options ahead of them on the depth chart the Trojan coaches will have the luxury of easing the talented freshmen into the line-up but don't expect it to take long for either player to make an impact. Whitney Lewis is an athletic marvel. He was measured recently at 227 lbs while running a 4.35 on grass. He's already that size despite the fact that he hasn't even graduated high school yet and with that speed he'll enter fall camp as the fastest player on the team. He brings the speed that will stretch the defense, a critical need in the Chow offense after the graduation of Kelly, but he is also versatile enough to see action at some point as a kick returner or possibly even at tailback if needed. Steve Smith is smooth as silk and has the experience of starring as the primary receiving option in a high-powered passing offense. Steve is ready to step in and contribute immediately after setting the California record for career receptions.

There won't be many balls left to go around for the remaining receivers but we've got some capable players waiting for a shot. Greig Carlson impressed a lot of Trojan fans last year with his sure hands and toughness as a punt returner even though speed will never be his greatest asset. Greig runs terrific routes and can be an effective weapon within this offense. Jason Mitchell has speed and is a good blocker but he need to show that be can be a playmaker. A player to watch for the future is Chris McFoy. He's probably a year away from really contributing but Chris has a great frame, long arms and is a very good blocker. D Hale has the ability to play and simply needs to put it all together. Look for Sandy Fletcher to see action on special teams.

Projected depth chart

SE – Williams, Lewis, Hale, Fletcher
FL - Colbert, Wyatt, Smith, Carlson, McFoy, Mitchell

Stats

Colbert (2002 – 71 catches, 1,029 yards, 5 td's CAREER – 138 catches, 10 td's)
Williams (2002 – 81 catches, 1,265 yards, 14 td's)
Carlson (2002 – 27 punt returns, 177 yards (6.6 average)
Hale (CAREER – 7 catches, 106 yards)
Fletcher (CAREER – 2 catches, 11 yards)

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