Max Wittek

Ex-USC Trojan Max Wittek named starting QB at Hawaii

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The page has officially been turned for Max Wittek. The former USC quarterback has been named the starting quarterback at Hawaii for the season opener against Colorado.

The Star-Advertiser in Honolulu reported the news earlier today, though it was widely expected Wittek would be tabbed the starter for the program. Wittek reportedly took the majority of the snaps as spring practices came to a close and he was voted co-captain by his teammates. Wittek joined the program last fall but was unable to play due to a timing issue regarding his graduation from USC.

The last we saw Wittek on the football field was in 2013 with USC. As a sophomore, Wittek split playing time with Cody Kessler, who took control of the starting job following a Week 2 loss at home against Washington State. Wittek had completed just three of his eight pass attempts and was intercepted once as the Trojans and went down in flames (a 10-7 loss to Mike Leach and his Cougars) and the hot seat on Lane Kiffin reached a boil.

Hawaii opens the 2015 season at home on Thursday, September 3 against the Pac-12’s Colorado. Wittek and the Rainbow Warriors then pack their bags to take on defending national champion Ohio State in Columbus the following week. Wittek once guaranteed a victory over No. 1 Notre Dame. Will he be ready to make any bold predictions against another (potentially) No. 1 team?

CFT Preseason Top 25: No. 14 USC

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2013 record: 10-4 overall, 6-3 in the Pac-12 conference (tied for 2nd in South division)
2013 postseason: Las Vegas Bowl vs. Fresno State (45-25 win)
2013 final AP/coaches’ ranking: No. 19/No. 19
Head coach: Steve Sarkisian (34-29 overall; 1st year at USC)
Offensive coordinator: Clay Helton (5th year at USC)
2013 offensive rankings: 59th rushing offense (172.8 ypg); 70th passing offense (227.1 ypg); 72nd total offense (399.9 ypg); 60th scoring offense (29.7 ppg)
Returning offensive starters: seven
Defensive coordinator: Justin Wilcox (1st year at USC)
2013 defensive rankings: 15th rushing defense (120.6 ypg); 32nd passing defense (214.6 ypg);  13th total defense (335.2 ypg); 16th scoring defense (21.2 ppg)
Returning defensive starters: seven
Location: Los Angeles
Stadium: Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum (93,607; grass)
Last conference title: 2008

THE GOOD
Once USC athletic director Pat Haden cut ties with head coach Lane Kiffin during the middle of season, the Trojans played very well down the stretch. The team won six of its last seven games to finish 10-4. The offense in particular played at a much higher level. In the team’s final seven games, junior quarterback Cody Kessler threw 12 touchdowns compared to only two interceptions. Kessler had to battle earlier in the season with fellow quarterback Max Wittek to earn the starting job, but once Kessler was handed the reins, the team’s offense played at a much higher level. They did so under the supervision of offensive coordinator Clay Helton, who was retained by new head coach Steve Sarkisian. An experienced quarterback and improved system should help the Trojans play at a more consistent level on offense during the upcoming season.

THE BAD
As the Trojans prepare for the season, the team’s situation at offensive line is tenuous at best. Max Tuerk may be one of the most versatile linemen in college football — he’ll start at center for the first time this fall — and Chad Wheeler improved throughout his freshmen campaign. But the rest of the projected starters along the offensive line lack experience. Aundrey Walker was expected to provide a veteran presence and potentially start, but he has yet to practice during camp due to a lingering leg injury. Zach Banner (right tackle), Khaliel Rodgers (right guard) and Toa Lobendahn (left guard) continue to practice with the first unit, yet Banner is the only one to even appear in a game as a member of the Trojans. In fact, Lobendahn is a true freshman. It’s a unit that will require time to gel and needs to gain experience throughout the season for USC to play to expectations this season.

THE UNKNOWN
Will the Trojans ever be able to recapture the magic that once surrounded the program during Pete Carroll‘s nine-year run as the team’s head coach? It already failed to do so when named Lane Kiffin, the team’s former co-offensive coordinator, was named as Carroll’s replacement. Yet, the school went back to the same well and named Kiffin’s former running mate as the program’s newest head coach. Sarkisian seems like an ideal fit due to his history with the team, but the coach was never able to get the Washington Huskies over the hump during his five seasons with the program. Granted, USC’s talent level compared to Washington’s at the time Sarkisian took over is night and day. It has to be a concern for USC faithful that Sarkisian never finished better than 8-4 as a head coach.

MAKE-OR-BREAK GAME: at UCLA
Last season, the Trojans got the proverbial monkey off their backs by beating the fifth-ranked Stanford Cardinal for the first time since 2008. The next obstacle for the Trojans is overcome their cross-town rival, the UCLA Bruins. As the Trojans dealt with NCAA sanctions, Bruins head coach Jim Mora rebuilt UCLA and made the Bruins into one of the top teams in the nation entering this season. While the Bruins haven’t been able to overcome the Trojans on the recruiting trail, UCLA still won the last two contests between the teams by a combined score of 73-42. It’s likely that when these two teams meet to play on Nov. 12 the Pac-12 South division and an appearance in the conference’s championship game will be on the line.

HEISMAN HOPEFUL: DT Leonard Williams
Everyone knows that a only one player primarily from the defensive side of the football has ever won the Heisman Trophy, and Michigan’s Charles Woodson had the luxury of playing special teams and a little bit of offense too. However, Nebraska’s Ndamukong Suh and Notre Dame’s Manti Te’o have shown in recent years that dominant defenders in the midst of a special season can garner legitimate consideration for the sport’s most prestigious trophy. Williams is the most talented player on USC’s roster. He’s projected as a possible No. 1 overall pick in the 2015 NFL draft. In 13 games last season, Williams was second on the team with 74 tackles and added 13.5 tackles for loss and six sacks. It’s not out of the realm of possibility to think Williams will put together a season like Suh did in 2009 (85 tackles, 24 tackles for loss, 12 sacks) and establish himself as the most dominant defender in college football.

(Click HERE for the CFT 2014 Preseason Preview Repository)

Report: Hawaii expects former USC QB to join team

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The Hawai’i Warriors have plenty of experience at quarterback, but the team is still lacking in talent at the game’s most important position.

Max Wittek, a USC transfer, wasn’t able to enroll at Hawai’i earlier in the process due to a delay in his graduation, but the team anticipates he’ll be enrolled in the program soon.

The University of Texas was Wittek’s first choice after he decided to transfer, but the Longhorns backed away from the quarterback once they discovered the academic and timing issues involved.

Hawai’i then moved into the driver’s seat, particularly after Wittek visited the school.

“I feel great with coach (Norm) Chow,” Wittek said a month ago. “He’s awesome. He’s been so helpful through this whole process.”

If Wittek does eventually enroll at the University of Hawai’i, the graduate transfer should immediately enter a competition with sophomore Ikaika Woosley and senior Taylor Graham. Wittek will have missed precious practice and instructional time, but he’s a former four-star recruit with a big-time arm. If the Warriors’ staff can get him up to speed quickly, the team may have dramatically upgraded at quarterback.

Max Wittek to go from USC to Hawaii walk-on?

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In mid-May it was reported that Hawaii was no longer an option for erstwhile USC quarterback Max Wittek because he wouldn’t graduate that month as expected.  As it turns out, that may not make a difference.

According to the Honolulu Star-Advertiser, Wittek is in the process of becoming a walk-on with the Rainbow Warriors football program. Wittek told the Star-Advertiser that he stills needs to consult with his family before making a final decision but there’s “a good possibility” this is the tack he’ll take thanks in large part to UH head coach Norm Chow.

“I feel great with coach Chow,” Wittek said. “He’s awesome. He’s been so helpful through this whole process.”

Because he’s not a graduate transfer as expected, Wittek would have to sit out the 2014 season. He would then have one year of eligibility remaining in 2015.

Wittek was a four-star member of the Trojans’ 2011 recruiting class, rated as the No. 3 pro-style quarterback in the country. In late January, he announced he would be transferring from USC in search of a better shot at playing time.

It was originally thought Wittek would end up at Texas; the Longhorns subsequently cooled their interest, likely due to the graduation issue.

Max Wittek won’t graduate, won’t play at FBS level in 2014

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And now we know the rest of the story.

Earlier this week, it was reported that Texas, long considered the  favorite to land Max Wittek, was cooling on adding the former USC quarterback to its roster.  No reason at the time was given for the unexpected development, although plenty of speculation as to the cause of the about-face surfaced.

According to the Honolulu Star-Advertiser, it’s as simple as this: Wittek will not graduate from USC this month as expected and will instead receive his diploma this coming December, meaning he would not be granted immediate eligibility at the FBS level as a grad transfer for the 2014 season.

Wittek could still transfer to an FBS school, but he would be forced to sit out the 2014 season and would have just one year of eligibility in 2015 remaining.

Still, the Star-Advertiser reports that Hawaii, which had been holding a scholarship for Wittek, will not be an option for the sit-a-year route.  With Texas apparently out of the equation, the only remaining schools that had been connected to Wittek are Louisville and Pittsburgh; it’s unknown if those will still be options.

Wittek could also drop down to the FCS level, play immediately, then transfer back to the FBS level for his senior season.  At this point in time, it’s unknown which tack Wittek will take.