USC Football: What You Need to Know About Matt Barkley's Potential Successors
It gives Trojan fans shivers just to think about it.
Next year, for the first time since 2009, someone not named Matt Barkley will be guiding USC from the quarterback position.
Given what Barkley has meant to this program, the notion that he will no longer be here is daunting to say the least.
But, fans of the program should at least take heart in the fact that when Barkley leaves, the Trojans will be well prepared for life without him.
Because unlike 2009, when a true freshman was asked to lead one of the premier programs in college football, 2013 will find two quarterbacks, though unseasoned, who will have experience in the system.
This slide show will look at the potential successors to Barkley (notice I didn't say "replacement," because Barkley can't be simply replaced) and handicap that player who will be asked to fill some mighty big shoes.
Who will be the starter in 2013?
Let's find out.
No. 4: Jesse Scroggins
photo from latimesblogs.latimes.com
Is he staying or is he going?
Rumors of redshirt sophomore quarterback Jesse Scroggins' imminent departure from USC has been going on for months.
What is certain is that at this point, Scroggins is firmly entrenched at the bottom of the Trojans' quarterback depth chart.
Scroggins, who came to the Trojans as a highly regarded prospect from Lakewood High School in Lakewood, Calif., has spent the majority of his time with USC struggling with injuries and academic woes.
A very good player when right, Scroggins has spent so little time in that condition that the likelihood of his succeeding Barkley is almost nil.
No. 3: Max Browne
photo from seattletimes.com
Assuming Scout.com 5-star quarterback Max Browne follows through on his verbal pledge to play for USC, many who follow the program are ready to hand him the reins in 2013.
After all, they reason, didn't Matt Barkley come in and take a position that was bereft of talent?
Yes and no.
Yes, Barkley came in and took command of a position whose main competition came in the form of Aaron Corp, a nice quarterback whose future destination would be calling signals for the Richmond Spiders.
Barkley's other competition was Mitch Mustain, a highly rated prep quarterback who never quite lived up to the hype after transferring from Arkansas.
But no, the 2013 Trojan quarterback depth chart will be much more competitive than what Barkley had to face in 2009.
Don't get me wrong. Browne, many people's No. 1 rated quarterback, is the Trojans' quarterback of the future.
Just not in 2013.
No. 2: Cody Kessler
There is very little to differentiate between redshirt freshman Cody Kessler and the resident of the No. 1 slide in this show.
Kessler has been money since he stepped on campus and was named Barkley's unused backup in 2011.
With Kessler, the Trojans get a very mobile and cerebral signal-caller whose maturity and calm demeanor in the huddle make him a natural leader.
Although not possessing a huge arm, Kessler gets the job done and throws very well on the run.
If Kessler were named the starter next year, not only wouldn't it be a surprise, but to be certain, USC would be in very good shape for 2013.
No. 1: Max Wittek
photo from scplaybook.com
In what might be considered a mild upset, look for Max Wittek to wrest the starting spot at quarterback once Mr. Barkley moves on to NFL riches.
Physically, Wittek looks the part at almost 6'4", 215 lbs. and he possesses a rocket for an arm.
The only knock on him was that he was a bit unsure of himself in the huddle and that was mostly due to his unfamiliarity with the playbook.
Those days appear to be a thing of the past if Wittek's spring performance was any indication.
Significantly more commanding in the huddle, Wittek still sometimes relies on his arm to overcome windows too small to throw into, but that can be fixed.
In a tight race, look for young Max to hit the finish line first in 2013.
Stephen Dunn/Getty Images
As difficult as it seems for Trojan fans, life will go on without Matt Barkley sporting the cardinal and gold.
Unlike 2009, when the Trojans were left without options (remember, playing a true freshman at quarterback, even one as talented as Barkley, is a last resort), 2013 will welcome two very good young signal-callers, both with two years in the system to replace the legendary No. 7.
Either Kessler or Wittek (maybe both?) have the talent to be very successful for the men of Troy.
The only question is how the starter performs under the pressure of playing for a big-time program such as USC.
How either Wittek or Kessler responds will go a long way to answering how successful the Trojans will be next year.
Fortunately, for USC and their fans, things should be just fine post-Barkley.