Ten years from now, when people sit down and discuss great USC quarterbacks, there's a good chance they will mention the name Cody Kessler.
Scouts began to notice his ability and potential following his sophomore season at Centennial High School in Bakersfield, CA.
Fast-forward one year, and Kessler is considered one of the top prospects in the 2011 recruiting class. At every camp and passing tournament this spring, including the Nike Elite 11, he is the quarterback who has dominated the headlines.
On the field, Kessler has a swagger that's entertaining to watch. At 6'2'' and 225 pounds, scouts love his strong arm, confidence, and combination of size and agility. After he gave USC his verbal commitment, Lane Kiffin called him a “spitting image” of Mark Sanchez.
The Trojans' newest quarterback also manages the game as well as any high school kid in the country. His best asset is probably the ability to change the velocity of his passes without sacrificing accuracy, but he is also quite adept at throwing on the run
Another thing scouts love about Kessler is his competitiveness. A couple of months ago at the Badger Sports seven on seven passing tournament in Las Vegas, where many of the best players on the west coast come together, he was named the top performer of a game his team needed him to play receiver.
In the game, he made several outstanding catches and scored the winning touchdown as his team, Central Cali, beat Team 1925 featuring fellow USC commits Max Wittek (Mater Dei '11), Victor Blackwell (Mater Dei '11), and Jordan Payton (Oaks Christian '12).
The biggest concern, at this point, is that he takes most of his snaps out of the shotgun.
Currently, Kessler—who has already accepted an invitation to play in next January's U.S. Army All-American game—is ranked as the number two pro-style quarterback recruit for 2011 by Rivals.com. They also ranked him the 36th best player nationally and top signal caller in the state of California.
Tom Lemming, of MaxPreps and CBS sports, ranked him as the golden state's best quarterback as well. Nationally, he ranked him the 64th best recruit.
Off the gridiron, Kessler is just as impressive. Last winter, he averaged 29 points, 11 rebounds, and five assists per game as a combo guard on Centennial's basketball team. If he wasn't committed to play quarterback at USC, division 1 schools would be looking at him right now for hoops. The last two years, he received all-state honors in both sports.
In Kessler, USC arguably receives the top 2011 quarterback in the country. He is big, athletic, and extremely competitive. When he gave his verbal, he knew Max Wittek had announced his commitment to the Trojans months before, but it didn't bother him. He isn't worried about competition or the sanctions imposed upon the school by the NCAA.
When penalties are lifted, he and the rest of the 2011 class will only be entering their sophomore or red shirt freshman season. Also, he will graduate early so he can participate in the spring game and practices, giving himself an early advantage.
But advantage or not, Kessler brings USC as much talent as any recent quarterback they have sent on to play in the NFL.