As USC opened spring camp for the 2013 college football season, the Trojans had the past (Max Wittek), the future (Max Browne) and the forgotten (Cody Kessler) at the quarterback position.
Although Wittek's "past" only entailed two games, many Trojan fans had already made their minds up about him after a dismal performance in USC's embarrassing Sun Bowl loss to Georgia Tech in 2012.
Fair or not, many of these fans have already condemned Wittek to an "also-ran" status and hungrily looked to the future which came in the form of true freshman quarterback, Max Browne.
Browne, the national Gatorade Player of the Year, has all of the tools including NFL size (6'5", 220 pounds), arm and the football acumen to excel at the next level.
To be certain, the future for Browne in the cardinal and gold looks very bright indeed.
But this isn't about Wittek or Browne.
No, this is about the "other guy" in the quarterback rotation, the redshirt sophomore from Centennial High School in Bakersfield, Calif.
While Matt Barkley was still at USC, Cody Kessler went from a never used back-up quarterback in 2011 to holder in 2012 while throwing two passes which he completed for all of nine yards.
Certainly not the stuff of legends and hardly the stats needed to pad a resume.
And as the 2013 spring session opened, Kessler was viewed largely as the third wheel in this rotation.
But that may be changing.
A knee injury to Max Wittek during the Trojans third practice has opened the door for Kessler, and while no one likes to get an opportunity at the expense of a teammate, young Cody seems to have taken advantage of the circumstances.
Starting from the very first practice, Kessler has played lights out with Kiffin noting after practice that Kessler was “on his way to be MVP of the day… I thought Cody really shined.”
In Kessler, the Trojans have a signal-caller that hasn't fit their typical mold of recent years in that he isn't the prototypical tall pocket passer who sits back and carves the defense up with laser-like throws.
Instead, he is a more mobile signal caller who can make things happen with his arm, feet, and a resourceful "feel" for what the opponent gives him.
Still, it appears that Kiffin isn't quite convinced about Kessler and that assertion is validated if you read between the lines when the head coach says, “I thought he did what Cody does,” Kiffin explained, “he shows up in these formats, makes plays, flips the ball, under hands it… he’s always been a gamer.”
The operative phrase in this instance would be "in these formats," where Kiffin seems to allude to Kessler working well in practice situations but perhaps not in real games.
Nonetheless—at least for the immediate future—Kessler will have an opportunity to change his coach's mind as he remains the number one option while Wittek continues to nurse his balky knee.
If he can continue to make things happen, he may find himself in a real dogfight to lead the Trojans in 2013.
And when all is said and done, number three in the hearts of those who follow the program may wind up as No. 1 when the season opens.
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