30 Key Trojans: #23 Max Browne

Our countdown of the 30 key Trojans for 2015 continues with Cody Kessler's backup, Max Browne -- the former No. 1 quarterback in the nation who is still awaiting his turn.

The USC football team took back to Howard Jones Field once more Tuesday morning, getting in a lengthy team run that ran over a bit before the coaches, including Steve Sarkisian, departed from the field, leaving the players alone to test each other during 7-on-7 and 11-on-11 drills.

The Trojans continue to chip away at the days leading up to the start of the 2015 college football season with strong workouts full of competition, teaching and plenty of laughs. With 46 days until the men of Troy take on Arkansas State, we continue to countdown the “30 Key Trojans” for the 2015 season.

This countdown features the 30 USC players most important to the Trojans’ success this season. This list is not the 30 most talented players or the 30 players that will put up the best stats, but instead the guys that could propel USC to a successful season.

Which players’ success is key for the Trojans’ season to be a success?

23. Max Browne - Redshirt Sophomore

For the second year in a row, Max Browne has the most important role on the team…for someone not playing — the backup quarterback position. If something were to happen to Heisman Trophy hopeful Cody Kessler, the entire Trojan world falls upon the shoulders of Browne.

There is no pretense of this being an ongoing battle like there was last year when new head coach Steve Sarkisian took over the USC program, but that doesn’t mean that Browne isn’t going to push Kessler. If you could hand out a most improved award to a player that doesn’t get any playing time, Browne would have taken the trophy last season.

He grew significantly as a player since last summer. A lot of that came from his decision-making skills with the ball in his hands at the quarterback position. Browne now has the full grasp of the playbook and, much like Kessler, is able to line other players up regardless of the play or formation. He has the ability to alter plays at the line of scrimmage and he still throws an absolutely gorgeous football, particularly when tossing the deep ball. That was showcased during the spring game when Browne went 24-for-37 for 251 yards and two touchdowns.

Browne saw limited action late in blowouts last season, but believe it or not, he actually played in six games. He was only attempted passes in three of those games, finishing 3-of-7 for 30 yards — all coming in the Fresno State game to open the season. But he’s continued to work despite being behind Kessler and being firmly entrenched as the No. 2 quarterback. After winning USC’s “Co-Lifter of the Year” award, Browne has pushed his 6-foot-5 frame to 220 pounds.

The former Sammamish (Wash.) Skyline five-star was Gatorade National Player of the Year and USA Today Offensive Player of the Year along with being on pretty much every high school All-American team in the country in high school. He tossed 49 touchdowns as a senior, completing 277-of-377 (73.5%) passes for 4,526 yards while leading his team to a 14-0 record and a state title. He threw for 146 touchdowns and nearly 13,000 yards in high school, so don’t be surprised if he turns in some stellar performances, if for some reason he has to be thrown into the fire this season.

SEASON GOAL:

“With my circumstances, in my position, you never know what’s going to happen, but just staying ready and if called upon, being ready to go out there and win us ball games. A goal for me is for there not to be a single drop off between the first and second string as far as my position goes. — Max Browne

EXPERTS TAKE:

“He's much stronger and completely in charge. And that may be more important than anything Max has been able to do. This team totally respects him and his ability to step in at any time and take over for Cody. If that becomes the case, No. 23 will be way too low of a ranking here." — Dan Weber, USCfootball.com

RankPlayerTotal PointsHighLow
1
2
3
4
5
6
7
8
9
10
11
12
13
14
15
16
17
18
19
20
21
22
23Max Browne43 pts19 (Twice)Not listed (Shotgun Spratling)
24Leon McQuay III40 pts17 (Ryan Abraham)Not listed (Twice)
25Osa Masina39 pts15 (Gerard Martinez)Not listed (Keely Eure)
26Darreus Rogers36 pts19 (Shotgun Spratling)Not listed (Dan Weber)
27Matt Boermeester35 pts18 (Dan Weber)Not listed (Twice)
28Chris Hawkins34 pts21 (Twice)Not listed (Twice)
29Viane Talamaivao23 pts22 (Keely Eure)Not listed (Three times)
30Ykili Ross21 pts22 (Austin Geller)Not listed (Twice)

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