Looking Good As A Freshman
Oct. 30, 2000
Sophomore wide receiver Kareem Kelly's outstanding freshman year in 1999 didmore than earn him Pac-10 Freshman of the Year honors. His breakout seasonalso inspired another young wide receiver to come to USC and strive to giveTrojan fans a repeat performance.
As a senior at Hueneme High in Oxnard, Calif., Keary Colbert watched asKelly caught pass after pass and scored touchdown after touchdown lastseason. He figured that if he came to USC, he might just be able to do thesame.
'One of my reasons for coming here was watching Kareem have so much successas a freshman,' said Colbert. 'I figured that I could have the samesuccess.'
The 6-1, 185-pound wide receiver has gotten off to a great start so far in2000. He has played in every game this year and has 19 catches whileaveraging 15.4 yards per catch (best among the wide receivers). With acareer high 6 grabs for 113 yards against Arizona, Colbert joined Kelly andformer Trojan R. Jay Soward as USC's only true freshmen wide receivers togain 100-plus receiving yards in a single game.
Not bad company to keep, yet this optimistic freshman has set his goalseven higher.
'My goal is to get Pac-10 Freshman of the Year just like Kareem did,'Colbert said. 'We always talk about who is going to have the better statsas a freshman and I am shooting to try and pass him up. That is my goal.'
Despite this friendly competition, Colbert and his fellow wide receivershave a great relationship and always encourage each other to perform.
'We work together,' he said. 'Nobody talks about who is starting or who isplaying more. It is a good group. I know from talking to my friends that alot of other schools have trouble with people and positions, but thereceivers here have a good relationship.'
Colbert's dedication to his teammates dates back to middle school and highschool, where he voluntarily switched from running back to wide receiverfor a fellow player.
'In eighth grade I was a running back. But in high school one of myfriends was also a running back, so I let him have that position and Iswitched to receiver,' said Colbert, who doesn't regret his altruisticgesture. 'I played really well at the freshman level and got moved up tovarsity and the rest is history.
History shows that the former running back went on to earn prepAll-American honors as a senior wide receiver at Hueneme High, where hecaught 25 passes for 600 yards and had 10 touchdown receptions. As a truefreshman at USC, Colbert has already started three games and ranks behindonly Kelly in terms of receiving statistics for a Trojan freshman receiver.
But just like any other college freshman, Colbert has also had to adjust tothe many demands of collegiate life.
'School is tough because at the end of the day I get very tired,' he said.'Sometimes you need more time to study than the two hours of study hall, sowhen you go home you really have to concentrate and study. There's lots ofquizzes, too.'
Luckily for Colbert, he didn't move too far from home and his family hasprovided the support he needs to meet the demands that come with being acollegiate athlete.
'Being only an hour away, I can just get in my car and drive home,' Colbertsaid. 'Both of my parents have really been there for me. They are proudof me and they support me a lot.'
This support is helping Colbert emerge as a key player in the offense, afact that hasn't gone unnoticed by his teammates.
'He has adjusted to the offense well,' said junior fullback CharlieLandrigan. 'He has gone out there and made big plays when he had to. Hedoesn't play like a freshman. He plays more like a sophomore or junior.He has a great attitude and he works hard.'
That hard work seems to be paying off for the freshman. Perhaps when heleaves USC, his No. 83 jersey will be as famous as Keyshawn Johnson's No.3, which is actually the number Colbert wore in high school.
'When I was in high school, I wore No. 3 because of Keyshawn Johnson,'Colbert said. 'I wanted to come here and wear it, but CP (Carson Palmer)wears it. I am thinking about sticking with No. 83 now.
'I think I'm making it look pretty good.'