Scroggins Staying, Starting From 'Scratch'

Jesse Scroggins, a redshirt freshman quarterback out of Lakewood High, needed some time to collect his thoughts, regroup and realize who he wanted to be. Now, he's sure that that person is meant to play football at USC.

In August 2011, a young quarterback at a high profile school hurt his hand. At USC, these minor details become news-breakers, headline stealers.

"Backup Quarterback Jesse Scroggins Hurts Thumb."

People wrote the 19-year old off, even though he made a full recovery less than two months later.

But even though the newspapers didn't know it, the improvement was only physical.

From fall camp until early 2012, Jesse Scroggins stared upon a mounting pile of obstacles and could not mentally overcome them.

He lost his confidence. He saw his competition -- two redshirt freshmen -- gain on him. He struggled in school. He stopped being a team leader.

He didn't have his priorities aligned.

"I kept to myself. I didn't really talk to nobody," he said. "That's not a quarterback at all. For other positions maybe, for a quarterback in [Division] I football, that's not the way to go."

When he didn't show up to team meetings early in the spring semester, many assumed he would transfer along with the others who departed during the offseason. Fans began to look at Cody Kessler and Max Wittek as the next anointed one.

But one fan was adamant about Scroggins staying: his dad, also named Jesse.

"My dad just told me 'stick with it, this is you, I see yourself here. You should see yourself. If you don't see yourself then you're not going to succeed,'" Scroggins recalled.

Another mentor, Trojans' starting quarterback Matt Barkley, also gave him valuable advice.

"When I'm in the hole, I need to get myself out and stay out. Don't put myself deeper. And that was definitely from Matt's words," he said.

And then, sometime in January, it hit the Lakewood High product.

He needed to get outside himself.

"I just let so many people down. I just disappointed, number one, my brothers and my sisters, my father and my mother. My family. And I think God put me here for a reason and I messed up that reason. So now I'm just trying to fix it and live from it.

"My approach then was just me, myself and I. It really was. And over the past couple weeks I learned it's about the team."

He said the apprehension wasn't rooted in any other program or in any real, concrete idea. Once he racked his brain behind another school, he couldn't think of any where else he wanted to play.

"There was no pros [of leaving], to be honest. I didn't see anything better for me, outside this world. 'SC is its own world and it's a great world."

Scroggins, a redshirt freshman, will again compete for a backup spot in 2012 behind Barkley. But he knows that when the senior moves on, the job is up for grabs.

"It's gonna start from scratch, just like everybody got here at the same time," he said. "I feel like that's when somebody's going to step up and take the reins."

Had you asked him a month ago, he might not have been as confident that he could be that guy. Today, he knows what he has to do, what he's capable of and what he's willing to do to get there.

"I used to be somebody who was always hungry and I kind of got full.

"But now I'm starving."

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