Skyline QB Max Browne chose to commit to the USC Trojans over the Washington Huskies, Alabama Crimson Tide, and Oklahoma Sooners on Wednesday night. A 2013 recruit, Browne is rated as a 5-star recruit and the nation’s top rated QB by both Scout and Rivals. While many people will be disappointed that yet another big time recruit from Western Washington (or Skyline for that matter) was lost by Steve Sarkisian to another big time school, this situation is a bit more complicated than meets the eye.
While a player with his immense talent and potential should not be concerned about competition, the fact is that only one QB gets to play at a time. Quarterbacks need to consider their competition very carefully when evaluating schools. If you are the backup running back, or backup wide receiver, or backup offensive lineman, there are still going to be a lot of snaps you will get before you have a chance to take the lead role. In addition, often the best athletes also get to participate on special teams.
Quarterback is a different story. For a player like Browne, who most think has the talent to be a starting QB for a Top 25 program right away as a freshman, whether he would get that chance is very important. At USC, there is the opportunity to earn the starting role right away as a freshman. USC will have Matt Barkley back for one more season, while Browne is still a senior in high school. Since USC did not sign a QB for the class of 2012, there is not necessarily anyone who stands out as the heir apparent to replace Barkley. Sure, there is talent Max Wittek and Cody Kessler backing up Barkley. But, if Max Browne is as good in college as people think he will be, he can win that job.
As for the hometown Huskies, the story is more complicated. Keith Price is a 4th year junior this season. If Price blows up again this season and continues his trajectory, he might not even stick around for his senior year, since the NFL will come calling. But, if Price did come back, Browne would definitely have to sit out his freshman year, likely redshirting. Then there is in-coming bigtime QB recruit Jeff Lindquist. In all likelihood, Lindquist will redshirt this year while Derrick Brown and Cyler Miles cover the backup duties. Miles is such an incredible athletic talent, I could see him getting involved on special teams or maybe even getting a few passes thrown his way as a wide receiver while also being the 2nd or 3rd string QB.
Either way, after Price leaves, most people expect to see Lindquist as the starter as a redshirt freshman (or sophomore) with four years of eligibility remaining (or three if Price returned his senior year). So, if Max Browne committed to Washington he’d have to try and out-compete another local big-time QB recruit with an extra year in the system and with years of eligibility remaining. So, the question you have ask yourself is this; Why would you take your chances with a team that may be good, but for which you may not get to play for years over a team that will probably be great for which you can start immediately.
While we all hate to see top-notch local talent leave the Puget Sound area to go elsewhere, in this case, it was completely understandable. It just wasn’t worth the risk. But, it is interesting that he decided to commit so early. Perhaps it was because USC has these scholarship limits coming up and they simply could not afford to to be as “flexible” as they might ordinarily be with 4- or 5- star recruits and fitting them in under the 25-signee cap later on. USC may have pressured Browne to make a decision early so that they would have the certainty they needed to target other key areas. Or, perhaps Browne just felt comfortable with his decision and was ready to put behind him. But, as we know all too well, nothing is official until the ink is dry. So, keep your eyes and ears open, as things can always change.