USC football’s quarterback battle will not be decided until after Fall Camp, offensive coordinator Graham Harrell revealed on Day 13 of Spring Camp.
USC football’s Spring Camp has been dominated by the open quarterback battle between incumbent starter JT Daniels, backups Matt Fink and Jack Sears, and early enrollee Kedon Slovis. Expect Fall Camp to contain much of the same.
On Tuesday after USC’s 13th practice of Spring Camp, offensive coordinator Graham Harrell confirmed that a starter will not be named when the Trojans close up shop at the end of this week.
“I think it’s hard to say that someone has won the job through 15 practices,” Harrell said.
It would be different if these quarterbacks had been working in his system for two years and he had all that time of evaluation to factor in, Harrell added. However, there hasn’t been enough time for him to get a good look at the group. And so the competition will continue.
“I’ll have an honest conversation with them when spring’s over to tell them where you are right now, what you need to work on and what you need to do this summer and fall to become the guy,” Harrell said.
Then the quarterbacks will return for the 25 or so practices available in Fall Camp to be evaluated once more by Harrell and his offensive staff.
“By then there might be a clear leader and a clear starter. And when that happens obviously we’ll devote a lot of reps into them,” Harrell said.
That means Harrell plans to follow a similar timeline to the one which determined last year’s quarterback battle, with a starter being named two weeks ahead of the season, in the Mock Game Week.
“The good news is you’ve got a lot of time to improve,” Harrell told his quarterbacks.
Improvement has already come this spring, according to the offensive coordinator, who has been pleased by the way the group has responded to his feedback. The summer, however, will be a “huge” opportunity for each of them to take control of their destiny in the competition.
Harrell won’t just be looking for the quarterbacks to get better as passers or in their understanding of the offense. He is looking for them to fit the on and off-the-field persona he expects from his quarterback.
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“Half of being the quarterback is just being a leader,” Harrell explained. “I told them your number one job is to make the guys around you better. That’s not only on the field, that’s also by the way you work. They’ve got to see you work and know that you work harder than anyone else and you embody what we call our core values.”
The core values for Harrell’s offense are simple: Selfless, tough, and disciplined.
Harrell believes the more the quarterbacks develop as leaders, the more respect they will earn from their teammates, the harder their teammates will play for them.
The quarterback who best reflects those core values over the next few months will be the one who catches Harrell’s eye.