USC’s Kolanz goes from intern to walk-on receiver

LOS ANGELES — The last week has been an eventful one for the USC football team. For receiver Robby Kolanz, it’s been all of that and more.

On a personal level, there isn’t much about the experience that he would change.

“It feels like I’m just a kid having fun,” said Kolanz, who has gone from a little known walk-on to a hot topic in new conferences.

In former head coach Lane Kiffin’s final news conference with the team, while mentioning the bind his team was in at the wide receiver position, he pointed to Kolanz getting significant reps in the middle of a Pac-12 game at Arizona State.

The very next day, athletic director Pat Haden spoke of Kolanz as well.

“I’m listening to Mr. Haden’s press conference and he mentioned his name,” Palos Verdes High School coach Guy Gardener, who last coached Kolanz in 2012. “I don’t know if it’s a good thing or not.”

Good, bad or indifferent, it’s added to the tale of Robby Kolanz.

As the week continued, it was Kolanz on Howard Jones Field going through practice reps — with the first team.

What has been a battle of attrition for the Trojans wide receivers has turned into quite a platform for the walk-on.

Recognition and playing time have all been in his grasp. When Kiffin and Haden spoke of Kolanz, they both noted the work he did last spring as an intern in the school’s sports information office.

“It was as simple as passing out stat sheets to the guys (at the press table),” Kolanz said. “It’s kind of a big swing of events going from passing (stats) out to now giving interviews.”
Kolanz felt at home working with members of the media — reporting is in his blood. His grandfather, Stan Chambers, is a news icon in Los Angeles — Chambers worked as a reporter at KTLA-TV for 63 years before retiring in 2010.

Kolanz plans to return to the sports information office at season’s end. However, despite the fun he had rubbing elbows with members of the media, the love for the game of football never disappeared.

Kolanz graduated from Palos Verdes High in 2012 where he was an all-CIF wide receiver and defensive back for Gardner. He received some interest from Ivy League schools and also had Division II and III offers, but declined. He elected to go to USC as a preferred walk-on, but decided he didn’t even want to play last season.

In the midst of handing reporters notes, he got the itch to return to the field and decided to walk-on to the football team last spring.

With the injuries at his position, which resulted in them having just one scholarship wide receiver — Nelson Agholor — available by the end of Sunday’s practice, Kolanz is getting closer and closer to making his first career reception.

Gardner’s not surprised at all by hearing his former player’s name being thrown around in the last week. Just one thing will make it better.

“I’m waiting for them to throw him the ball,” Gardner said. “He can play.”