Graham Harrell has watched USC’s four quarterbacks for 13 practices, evaluating every decision, every throw, every interaction. Given how quickly the Trojans move through practice these days with Harrell pushing the pace, there is no shortage of data.
But when asked whether he hopes to identify a clear leader in the quarterback competition before spring ball ends Saturday, Harrell’s initial reaction was to utter a good-natured chuckle.
“Probably not,” said Harrell, USC’s new offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach. “I think it’s hard too say that someone’s won the job or anything through 15 practices. It would be different if I’d been here for two years and they’ve had two years worth of work and two years worth of things to evaluate.”
Harrell is essentially looking for someone who is probably a lot like himself, given the success he had playing the position in a more primitive version of this “Air Raid” offensive scheme under Mike Leach at Texas Tech. It’s not that Harrell needs a personality double. His quarterback doesn’t have to love WWE as much as he does. But to hand the keys to his offense over, Harrell will have had to develop a genuine trust, and that can happen only with time.
Luckily for Harrell, he has plenty of it with a long offseason ahead. While he can’t coach JT Daniels, Matt Fink, Jack Sears and Kedon Slovis between the end of spring practice and the start of summer camp in August, Harrell made it clear he will still be watching them closely.
“Summer will be huge for them,” Harrell said. “That will be a great opportunity to develop as leaders, kind of step up and be leaders not on the football field but off the field, in the weight room, in the locker room … half the part of being a quarterback is just being a leader.