Don’t sleep on Kedon Slovis, USC football’s backup quarterback

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

Kedon Slovis impressed Graham Harrell enough to leapfrog into the backup quarterback spot at USC football for 2019. His rise may not be complete either.

ALL-FOE TEAM. USC's Most Dangerous Opponents in 2019

USC football’s quarterback competition is technically over, but JT Daniels would be wise to avoid complacency when it comes to the new backup on the block.

Kedon Slovis is the true freshman who surprised just about everyone by not only keeping up in the four-man quarterback competition through Spring and Fall Camp, but also rising to No. 2 in the pecking order. Not bad for a largely unheralded three-star recruit.

CHECK OUT: Depth chart projections for 2019

Slovis certainly doesn’t sound like a three-star prospect when described by offensive coordinator Graham Harrell.

“I think talent-wise, he’s as good as I’ve ever seen,” Harrell said after USC’s Mock Gameweek Wednesday practice. “Kedon can make some throws that other people can’t make, so that’s why he is a special talent.”

Daniels beat out Slovis on the strength of his consistency. His experience with a year of college practices and 11 starts under his belt no doubt gave him a leg up.

INJURY REPORT: Devon Williams day-to-day, Vavae Malepeai back

“JT was just a little more consistent than [Kedon] was every single day,” Harrell said. “And that’s what puts this offense in the best position to win, especially with the talent we have around them.”

It’s worth noting, however, that the separation between the two quarterbacks in the eyes of USC’s coaches was minimal.

“More anything with Kedon, he just made some freshman mistakes,” Harrell said. “If he wouldn’t have, I mean, I don’t know if he’d have won the job or not, but it’d be a different story, possibly. And I think he knows that too.”

MORE: Christian Rector is a three-star success story in a world of five-stars

If Harrell knows it and Slovis knows it, then Daniels must know it too.

For USC, that could mean some serious intrigue. But it could also lead to the best possible outcome, with continued competition getting the best out of whoever takes the field.

Daniels said it’s not his job to react to where others landed on the depth chart.

“Wherever coach tells me I am, that’s where I am,” he said.

SEE ALSO: JT Daniels can follow in Matt Barkley’s footsteps as a sophomore

Even so, he acknowledged the value of competition.

“It definitely pushes you to make sure that you’re on yourself,” he said.

The Trojans were right to name a starter ahead of Mock Gameweek, which they didn’t do last year, giving Daniels only a week of full-time first team reps before the season opener against UNLV. This time around, he will have two weeks of practice to prepare as the starter before the Fresno State game.

More from Reign of Troy

That shouldn’t mean that Slovis will go away though.

In fact, USC is no stranger to this scenario, though not entirely identical situations.

The more veteran Max Browne was named the starter ahead of the 2016 season after a tighter-than-expected battle with Sam Darnold. When the Trojans and Browne faltered to a 1-2 record to start the campaign, the backup was elevated to a starting role. And the rest is history.

Daniels is now in Browne’s position, with a younger challenger on his heels and a tough opening slate to navigate. He is in control of the story from here. It’s a simple equation: Play well. Keep playing.

“The leash is pretty long as long as you’re playing well,” Harrell said.

Neither Daniels nor USC fans should go into 2019 thinking Harrell wouldn’t possibly call on the true freshman though. Everything about Harrell’s comments concerning Slovis made it clear where he stands on that possibility.

“I’m very confident in Kedon going in to play,” said Harrell. “We put him in the Coliseum in front of a big crowd [in the Fall Showcase] and the moment wasn’t too big at all for him. He went out there and just acted like it was another day. So I have confidence that if he gets thrown into a game the moment won’t be too big and he’ll go ahead and execute.”Don’t sleep on Kedon Slovis, USC football’s new backup quarterback