LOS ANGELES - Players showing up at USC this summer for the first time know that USC coach Pete Carroll is licking his chops. Carroll wants to know as soon as possible what his newest players can do.
Luckily for the young guys, veterans like wide receiver Damian Williams are willing to help get them ready.
"We got those new guys in now finally, and we're working to inset them into some of our 7-on-7s," he said. "We're helping them out with some other stuff and getting them some experience. We'll go from there."
Williams and his teammates have gone out of their way to point the incoming Trojans in the right direction during players-only workouts. And that teaching may be more receptive because it's coming from a peer.
"The new guys always really take to the coaching from the players. It's one thing getting coached by a coach when they throw a lot of information at you, but it's another when a teammate takes the time to actually show a new guy how to do something," Williams said. "When we get to see stuff, we know how the defense is playing them. The coaches know the schemes, but they don't know exactly how the players are playing. When we get a chance to get them out here for 11-on-11s and 7-on-7s, we can actually teach them. And they learn.
"I want to help coach up these guys. I know this offense pretty well. I know the ins and the outs. I just like teaching the younger guys the stuff that I know."
Williams and USC's other receivers have John Morton, the team's wide receivers coach and offensive coordinator, to teach them, but Williams said Morton takes a hands-off approach with the receiving corps.
"I don't think Johnny Mo could get any busier. He's not just the receivers coach; he's the busiest man alive. I don't think he's less available [because he's the offensive coordinator]," Williams said. "I think he knows we have an experienced, veteran group. He expects us to be the eyes and coach for him. The easiest thing for him is to just install stuff. We can do the rest."
Having quarterbacks like Aaron Corp, Matt Barkley and Mitch Mustain make things easier too. Williams said it doesn't feel like the USC receivers are breaking in a new quarterback even if no one on the roster has started under center for the Trojans before.
"Aaron's been here long enough. He's just one of the boys," Williams said. "Corp's the guy, and he's assumed that leadership position. He's done a great job, but I don't even feel like Barkley's a new guy anymore either. He's been here for a whole semester and the whole summer."
Williams said he'd be OK with Barkley, a true freshman, starting over older quarterbacks if he were to win the job this season.
"If he won the job in the coaches' eyes, I'd feel like he's the guy for the job," Williams said. "It's a competition, and Corp's a great quarterback. If [Barkley] is able to beat out Corp, then I'd feel like he was the man for the job. That's who we'd have to put out on the field."
But it won't be easy.
"It's going to be tough, though. Being a freshman, you're against the wall to begin with," Williams said. "The learning curve is just insane. Not only that, you have to come in and prove yourself. Guys who have already been here have done that already. It's tough, man.
"But I think if any kid could do it, it would be Barkley."