The quarterback situation at USC just got a little bit more interesting.
On Wednesday night, quarterback Max Browne of Skyline High School in Sammamish, Wash., verbally committed to USC, after a three-day unofficial visit to campus. According to Rivals.com, Browne is the No. 1 overall prospect at his position in the 2013 class.
The 6-foot-5, 210-pound prep star threw for 4,045 yards and 45 touchdowns during his junior season. In two years starting at Skyline, the quarterback has thrown for 8,216 passing yards and 95 touchdowns.
Browne’s verbal commitment gives the USC coaching staff multiple options for senior Matt Barkley’s successor.
According to Mason Kelley of The Seattle Times, Browne is working on graduating high school early, too, so he can enroll at USC during the next spring semester — a similar route Barkley, Cody Kessler and Max Wittek decided to take.
This spring, redshirt freshmen quarterbacks Kessler and Wittek have seen extended snaps behind center. The two have been competing for the backup role on the depth chart behind Barkley. Both are also auditioning for an eventual starting role next year. Now it’s likely a three-man race.
And in case anybody forgot: Redshirt sophomore quarterback Jesse Scroggins is still at USC. Remember just a couple years ago, Scroggins was supposed to be the next great player? According to Rivals.com, Scroggins was the No. 5 prospect at his position — a dual-threat quarterback with a laser arm and a nice set of wheels.
Does Browne’s commitment mean the end of Scroggins’ time at USC? With sanctions limiting the Trojans to 75 scholarship players until 2015, can they afford to carry four quarterbacks on their roster?
It’s really unfortunate, too. Call it bad luck or misfortune, but he’s dealt with numerous injuries that have slowed his progress as a player. Now he’s trying to work his way back in the classroom as well. He’s been excused from spring practice so he can focus his efforts in the classroom to gain eligibility for the fall.
“I will be eligible in the fall, there is no question about that,” Scroggins told ESPNLosAngeles.com in February. “I will be practicing in the spring and I will still be here in the fall, no doubt about it.”
But his inability to stay healthy, coupled with his academic issues, isn’t a positive sign. There’s been more hype than show for the four-star prospect out of Lakewood High. And to the coaching staff, it’s not exactly encouraging to see a promising guy like Scroggins miss practice to bring up his grades just so he can step foot on the field. No longer does Scroggins have that so-called extra experience.
Even last fall while Scroggins was recovering from surgery on his throwing hand, it seemed as if Kessler and Wittek leapfrogged the Lakewood native on the depth chart. With both of them enrolling early last spring, it certainly has helped familiarize them with the system and coaching staff.
Again, with Browne verbally committing, the Trojans will have the No. 1 prospect at his position in the class of 2013 and have two other capable players in Kessler and Wittek, who are ranked No. 2 and No. 3 at their positions in the class of 2011, according to Rivals.com.
Yes, the starting job isn’t guaranteed to any of those three, either. But with Kessler and Wittek gaining more experience this spring and Browne with the potential to be a star, Scroggins is likely the odd man out.
With the limited amount of scholarship players USC can carry on its roster over the next couple years, it just doesn’t make sense to carry four quarterbacks.
Come next year, not only does the coaching staff have to figure out who will be the heir apparent to Barkley, but they’ll also have to figure out what they want to do with Scroggins.
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