The USC Trojans are coming off a woefully disappointing run in 2012 and looking to turn things around in 2013. One of the biggest areas of concern for Lane Kiffin and company heading into next season is finding a quarterback to replace Matt Barkley. Max Wittek got a two-game audition at the end of the season when Barkley was out with a shoulder injury and did nothing to help his case as the quarterback of the future, so will incoming freshman Max Browne win the job?
The 18-year old Sammamish, Wash., native is making all the right moves to do so. He comes to USC with more accolades to his name than any other signal-caller currently on the Trojans’ roster and enrolled in classes this January as an early entrant to be eligible for spring practices. That extra time and work in 7-on-7 workouts could give him the opportunity to make an impact.
It won’t be too terribly surprising if he does. Browne is the nation’s No. 2 quarterback prospect in the 2013 class and brings all the physical tools to be successful. At 6-foot-5, 215-pounds, he’s got the frame to a major college football quarterback right away. Even more importantly, however, is his mental readiness to step into the spotlight. One Pac 12 coach described Browne as “one of those kids who commands respect.” Those unteachable intangibles could lead Browne into the starting lineup next fall.
He will certainly have the opportunity. Wittek was pegged by many as the guy to follow Barkley, but did everything in his power to lose the job in his two-game audition to close out the season. In two starts, Wittek completed 28 of 57 passes for 293 yards with two touchdowns to five interceptions. It would be easy to dismiss those numbers against the Notre Dame Fighting Irish, one of the top defenses in the country at the time, but he played even worse against the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets, who came into the bowl game as one of the worst defenses in the country.
The USC coaches won’t say so, but their faith in Wittek has to be shaken and they’ll be very open to seeing what Browne can do this spring and into the fall. For now, Wittek is the likely favorite to start due to Browne’s inexperience with USC’s playbook and the speed of major college football. However, if Browne can get a solid grasp on those, the starting quarterback job in 2013 is ripe for the taking.