Set to graduate USC in the Spring of 2014, ex-Trojan QB Max Wittek is looking for someplace to play college football next season. According to a personal conversation with Bruce Feldman of CBSSports.com, Wittek will be visiting Texas this weekend:
— Bruce Feldman (@BFeldmanCBS) February 9, 2014
Wittek enrolled at USC in the Winter of 2011, following his December graduation from Mater Dei High School. The pipeline between Mater Dei and USC is strong, having sent both Matt Leinart and Matt Barkley up the road to Los Angeles before Wittek.
He saw his first action in relief of an injured Barkley against top-ranked Notre Dame in 2012. He performed adequately against a strong defense, showcasing good arm strength and pocket movement. After a scattershot showing in the 2012 Sun Bowl, Wittek entered 2013 as the man to beat in the USC quarterback competition.
Then head coach Lane Kiffen did not announce a starter for the 2013 opener, but ended up going with fellow redshirt-Soph QB Cody Kessler at QB. Kiffin rotated Wittek in the first three weeks of the season, but Kessler eventually gained a stranglehold on the job, and Wittek was relegated to mop-up duty.
A psychology major, Wittek is prepared to graduate in just three in a half years, which makes him eligible to pursue a graduate degree and play next season with two full years of NCAA eligibility remaining. It’s a considerable academic accomplishment to get through a prep school like Mater Dei in 3.5 years, go to USC, and do the same. Wittek is a smart person. However, Wittek’s USC football career was done in by the speed of the game. Wittek does not move particularly well, and he simply needs to play football faster in order to make it at the Division 1 level. His lacking footwork and decision making was a poor fit for the West Coast offense that USC runs.
Having quick feet is not as important in a spread/air-raid type system like the one Texas will run, but the decision making ability of the quarterback is paramount. It’s a better fit for Wittek at Texas than at USC, but David Ash is a better quarterback than Cody Kessler. Ash, however, has just one year of eligibility remaining, and given his injury history, Texas needs to add depth at the quarterback position. Behind Ash, the only Texas QB with any experience is Tyrone Swoopes, who mopped up at the end of two games in the 2013 season. Texas just signed QB Jerod Heard, a four star recruit from Denton, TX.
The main competition for Wittek will likely come from the school that Charlie Strong left. Louisville QB Teddy Bridgewater is headed for the NFL draft, and new head coach Bobby Petrino has a history of turning pocket passers into projectable NFL talent. Though Texas is believed to be Wittek’s top choice, Louisville makes a lot of sense for a passer of Max Wittek’s skill set.
Beyond the fact that multiple teams would love to get their hands on a former top-recruit with big game experience, Wittek to UT makes plenty of sense for all parties involved. No decision on his future is imminent, and this story could drag into the summer. But until Wittek selects a new team, his name will be linked to the Longhorns because of the deficiencies on the QB depth chart that Charlie Strong inherits.