USC quarterback Max Wittek has decided to skip spring practice, graduate and then transfer to another school to play his final two seasons, he told the Los Angeles Times on Wednesday.
Because he will have his undergraduate degree, the redshirt sophomore will be able to play immediately at an FBS school under the NCAA’s graduate transfer rule.
Wittek informed USC head coach Steve Sarkisian of the decision on Wednesday.
“I had talked to Coach a couple of times,” Wittek told the Times. “What it really came down to was a feel for me…. Getting my degree from such a great university will mean a lot, and ultimately, allowing me to play right away with two years to play was the best way to go.”
Wittek started the final two games of 2012 after Matt Barkley got injured, but he couldn’t secure the starting job in 2013 after Barkley departed as Cody Kessler took the vast majority of the snaps and started every game. Wittek ended his USC career with 600 passing yards, three touchdowns and six interceptions.
He is undecided on where he will end up playing.
“At the very beginning I’ll be open to anything to keep that spectrum open,” he said. “I hope to narrow it down to a few schools I feel comfortable with.”
With Kessler firmly entrenched as USC’s starter, it makes sense for Wittek to transfer. The Mater Dei High product should be an attractive option for any quarterback-starved schools out there. He is big (6-foot-4, 240 pounds) with a cannon for an arm. He just needs some seasoning.
As for USC, it will head into the fall with Kessler, redshirt freshman Max Browne and true freshman Jalen Greene at quarterback. The Trojans better hope Kessler stays healthy behind a rebuilt offensive line or things could get dicey in Sarkisian’s first season at USC.
Most expect Josh Rosen to be one of the first quarterbacks selected when the next NFL draft rolls around. Rosen’s coach, though, doesn’t see the outspoken junior being a part of the pool of available draftees.
“My firm belief is that he will not leave,” UCLA head coach Jim Mora told Yahoo Sports‘ Pete Thamel over the weekend. “I don’t think he’ll leave. …
“I want a disclaimer, I have an option to change my opinion. But as we sit here right now, I can really honestly say I don’t think he’s going to leave.”
Mora’s proclamation comes less than two weeks before the Bruins kick off the 2017 season and around five months before draft-eligible early entrants have to officially file their paperwork with the NFL.
Rosen flashed brilliance as a true freshman in 2015, passing for nearly 3,700 yards and 23 touchdowns. His sophomore campaign was marred by a nerve issue in his throwing shoulder that sidelined him for the final six games of the season. Rosen has resoundingly rebounded from that health issue, and will head into the 2017 season 100-percent healthy.
Whether he enters the 2018 season 100-percent Bruin remains, his head coach’s confidence notwithstanding, highly unlikely or even doubtful, especially given his recent comments that football and school don’t mix.
Not surprisingly, more details are surfacing in Hugh Freeze‘s unceremonious exit from Oxford.
Freeze resigned as the head football coach at Ole Miss last month in part because of Jan. 19 phone call to an escort service that was initially deemed to be a misdial. According to the Wall Street Journal, that call came a few hours after a university plane landed in Tampa, Fla., as part of a five-day, 13-stop recruiting trip. On that plane was Freeze as well as other members of the Rebels football staff.
The discovery of the link between the call and recruiting trip came after a review of phone records and other documents.
After Freeze’s “resignation,” Ole Miss athletic director Ross Bjork described an unspecified pattern of personal misconduct that led to the coach’s departure. Bjork somewhat expounded on that pattern to the Journal.
Although school officials had previously declined to characterize the alleged misconduct, Ole Miss athletic director Ross Bjork said in response to questions from the Journal about Freeze’s travel that the university’s investigation uncovered “calls of a similar nature” over the course of several years, often matching up with travel logs showing the coach’s use of the school plane. The school said it examined his travel logs from peak recruiting times—often November, December and January—when Freeze would travel out of state, using the school plane and other public resources.
“When we say pattern, we are describing other phone numbers that when you Google them pull up similar type websites, services, however you would describe them,” Bjork said. “We took action swiftly.
Speculation of late has there being more, potentially much more, to Freeze’s forced resignation. Only time will tell how much more will ultimately come out — especially if another former Ole Miss head coach’s lawsuit, kicked out of federal court for lack of jurisdiction, is revived in the state of Mississippi as expected.
In his college football preview Bible, the great Phil Steele had Michael Pittman listed as one of three starting wide receivers for USC. With the start of a new season a little more than two weeks away, Pittman doesn’t appear set to make that magazine projection come to fruition.
According to multiple reports, Pittman suffered an ankle injury during practice Tuesday and was taken off the field via a cart after having a boot placed on his left foot. While X-rays taken post-practice showed no break or fracture, the sophomore has been diagnosed with the dreaded high-ankle sprain.
As a result, the Los Angeles Daily News writes that “[i]t seems unlikely he would be able to play against Western Michigan.” Rivals.com tweeted that the injury “[p]robably keeps him out of season opener.”
At least for now, the football program has yet to officially rule Pittman out for the opener.
Pittman was a four-star 2016 recruit, rated as the No. 9 receiver in the country. As a true freshman last season, he caught six passes for 82 yards.
In a span of just a few hours, Lane Kiffin Tuesday bolstered his first Florida Atlantic roster with a pair of Power Five transfers.
In the middle of the afternoon Tuesday, Auburn confirmed that John Franklin III had decided to transfer from the Tigers in order to be closer to his Fort Lauderdale, Fla., home. Not long after, the quarterback-turned-wide receiver revealed on his Instagram account that he is “coming home and looking forward to playing my last collegiate season at FAU under Coach Lane Kiffin.”
Franklin would come to the Owls as a graduate transfer, giving him immediate eligibility.
Not even four hours later, Chris Robison took to social media on his private Twitter account to announce that he too will be transferring into Kiffin’s FAU program. The quarterback was dismissed by Oklahoma earlier this month for violating unspecified team rules.
A four-star member of the Sooners’ 2017 recruiting class, Robison was rated as the No. 7 pro-style quarterback in the country; the No. 29 player at any position in the state of Texas; and the No. 173 recruit on 247Sports.com‘s composite board. As an early enrollee, Robison took part in spring practice and played in the spring game, completing 3-of-5 passes for 49 yards.
Roughly 12 hours after that game, he was arrested for being drunk in public. Because of only what were described as “personal reasons,” Robison wasn’t enrolled in summer classes and didn’t take part in football workouts during the same period.