Ranking Top Transfer Options for Ex-USC QB Max Wittek
Programs in need of a veteran, pro-style quarterback capable of stepping into a starting role immediately have an option in Max Wittek. The former USC quarterback declared his intention to transfer on Wednesday, and because Wittek will earn his degree, he is eligible for the 2014 season.
Wittek is no one-year solution, either. He has two years of eligibility remaining, so he can fit into a coach's longer-term plans.
With ties to both the East and West Coast, the entire college football continent is open—though not Alabama. Former Florida State quarterback Jacob Coker's transfer there last week makes a reunion with Lane Kiffin unlikely.
Otherwise, there are any number of intriguing possibilities for Wittek's football future. Until he begins making visits and meeting with suitors, expect to read any number of names. NFL.com's Dan Greenspan mentioned Georgia, and CBS Sports' Bruce Fedlman suggested Texas.
However, neither made our list.
5. Florida Gators
Florida is an intriguing possible destination for Wittek. Per 247Sports.com, he was a recruiting target of both the Gators and Blue Devils—the latter being a program that employed new Florida offensive coordinator Kurt Roper.
As a pro-style quarterback, Wittek is a deviation from the preference for a dual-threat Florida has shown in recent years, though given the Gators' offensive anemia, that's probably a welcome change. Florida was 107th in passing offense in 2013 and 116th in 2012.
There are ample connections between Wittek and Gainesville. But in the 2011 signing class, Florida brought on highly touted prospect Jeff Driskel, who enters his senior season. Driskel has struggled since becoming the starter in 2012, though he also played under two very different offensive coordinators in Charlie Weis and Brent Pease.
Florida head coach Will Muschamp may want to give the senior Driskel an opportunity under proven quarterback guru Roper. However, with an open competition and Roper's guidance, Wittek could be the answer to getting Florida's offense back on track for the first time since 2009.
4. Louisville Cardinals
Three-year starter and likely first-round NFL draft pick Teddy Bridgewater leaves a huge void for returning head coach Bobby Petrino. However, Petrino thrived previously installing a talented transfer quarterback into his vertical passing attack, riding 4,000-yard passer Ryan Mallett to the 2011 Sugar Bowl at Arkansas.
Wittek fits the mold of quarterbacks Petrino and offensive coordinator Garrick McGee like: big (6'4", 235 lbs) with an even bigger throwing arm to maximize production on his attempts.
Josh Webb of USCFootball.com points out that Wittek is a natural fit for Petrino's offense, and Nick Burch of Louisville Sports Live Radio notes the pressing need the Cardinals have for a game-experienced quarterback.
The home-run ball provides a dangerous punch to the rush-pass balance Petrino and McGee favored at Arkansas, and Wittek is capable of throwing it.
3. Connecticut Huskies
Wittek is originally from Connecticut, despite ending his prep career at Southern California's Mater Dei, and he was a Huskies recruiting target, per 247Sports.com.
Bob Diaco comes over from Notre Dame, which also recruited Wittek. The first-year head coach inherits a dire quarterback situation that goes back nearly a decade.
Wittek's return to the Nutmeg State might be the answer at quarterback the program has sought just about every season since Dan Orlovsky left the program. Orlovsky was Connecticut's last 3,000-yard passer, throwing for 3,354 yards in 2004.
In the nine seasons since, the Huskies have had just four quarterbacks reach even 2,000 yards. The strong-armed Wittek could inject some life into the long-stagnant offense.
2. Miami Hurricanes
NFL.com's Dan Greenspan tweets that Wittek to Miami is a possibility, and the move makes sense.
Stephen Morris is gone, leaving sophomore Gray Crow with senior and Memphis transfer Ryan Williams as the only Hurricanes quarterbacks with game experience. Both appeared in reserve duty in the past season.
Head coach Al Golden also signed 4-star prospect Kevin Olsen last winter. Olsen could enter the fray, but Golden told The Miami Herald's Susan Miller Degnan that the young quarterback "(has) got to really improve the mental aspects of his game so that he can play the game fast, and he can’t waste his time...He’s got to get better."
If Olsen has not yet made the necessary strides to take over the offense, Wittek offers a solid option for the next two years.
Wittek could step into offensive coordinator James Coley's system rather seamlessly. He wouldn't be expected to shoulder too much of the responsibility—not with the rushing options of Duke Johnson and Dallas Crawford in the backfield.
1. Fresno State Bulldogs
Coaches oftentimes block transfers of players to teams on their schedule, and Fresno State is USC's first opponent in 2014. That said, head coach Tim DeRuyter's program might be the perfect fit for Wittek should Steve Sarkisian not block the move.
Fresno State's roster has a prominent Orange County prep influence, including Wittek's former Mater Dei teammate and friend, defensive end Todd Hunt. NeonTommy.com reported of Hunt living with Wittek's family in 2012, and Wittek went to watch Hunt and the Bulldogs in December's Mountain West Conference championship, per Inside Troy's Ryan Abraham.
DeRuyter is himself a product of St. John Bosco in the southern Los Angeles county city of Bellflower.
More importantly, Fresno State offers an environment in which Wittek could step in and immediately flourish. Offensive coordinator Dave Schramm centered his play-calling around quarterback Derek Carr's strengths, and the result was Fresno State leading the nation in passing offense in 2013.
Schramm has not been married to any one particular style, employing a more traditional pro set at Utah akin to what Wittek ran at USC before joining DeRuyter at Fresno State. Therefore, Wittek would not be expected to throw 659 times like Carr.
However, Wittek's arm strength could keep the Bulldogs passing attack humming.
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