Graham Harrell looking for best fit in USC football’s quarterback competition

Alicia de Artola/Reign of Troy
Alicia de Artola/Reign of Troy /

USC football OC Graham Harrell is looking forward to an open quarterback competition between JT Daniels, Jack Sears and Matt Fink this spring.

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USC football’s quarterback competition was supposed to be settled. But a trying 2018 campaign and a new offensive coordinator have opened the door for another offseason battle.

On Monday, new offensive coordinator Graham Harrell weighed in on the quarterbacks in his first comments since taking the job with the Trojans, affirming Clay Helton’s Signing Day assertion that there would be an open quarterback competition this spring.

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“Every position is open because I don’t have preconceived notions about any of them,” Harrell said.

The contenders for the job include incumbent starter JT Daniels, backup Matt Fink and Jack Sears, whose performance in a start against ASU left a segment of USC fans calling for more.

Harrell hasn’t had a chance to work closely with his quarterbacks just yet, limited to observing winter workouts and answering questions in his office. However, some first impressions have already been made.

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“You can’t deny his talent,” Harrell said of Daniels, who impressed him just by winning the starting job as a freshman.

Sears has stood out to Harrell as well, thanks to his athleticism, ability to run, but for other reasons too.

“From what I can see, Jack’s a great leader,” Harrell said. “He works his tail off, so I’m excited about him.”

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Not to be forgotten, Fink also earned kudos from the new offensive coordinator.

“Fink’s as competitive as anyone I’ve been around. I think that’s his biggest strength,” Harrell said.

The challenge for each this spring will be quickly grasping Harrell’s system. Fortunately for them all, the scheme is built to make it as easy on the quarterback as possible.

“We’re going to try to simplify things and give every one of those guys the chance to be successful,” said Harrell.

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The Air Raid is predicated on putting players in positions to succeed by encouraging simplicity. Harrell doesn’t want his quarterbacks to think, he wants them to play.

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He also intends to find a way to play to each quarterback’s particular skillset, hoping to get the most out of each of them.

“We’re going to try to let the talents be free and go have fun with it and see which one fits us best,” Harrell said.

Spring Camp will be the first opportunity for each to make his case for the starting job. Practices start next week, so Harrell and fans won’t have to wait much longer to see how the competition unfolds, though it could stretch well into Fall Camp once again this year.

Whether Daniels’ sharp mind and throwing ability, Sears’ athleticism and leadership, or Fink’s competitiveness wins out is anyone’s guess. But they will all have a shot.