Since February of last year, five-star quarterback Matt Corral has been penciled in by many USC fans as the heir apparent to Sam Darnold.
Saturday, Corral confirmed that he de-committed from the Trojans amidst rumors that another off-the-field issue prompted the USC coaching staff to re-evaluate the quarterback position for the 2018 recruiting cycle.
Corral transferred to Long Beach (Calif.) Poly earlier in the year following an alleged incident with another student at his former high school, Oaks Christian. Multiple sources framed Saturday’s parting of ways between USC and Corral as “mutual.”
Corral, who earned a spot among the Elite 11 two weeks ago, is currently rated the nation’s No. 3 quarterback. He is considered to have the strongest arm in the 2018 class after winning the long ball competition at Steve Clarkson’s Quarterback Retreat in May.
At that event, Corral beat out Georgia sophomore quarterback Jacob Eason and Colorado redshirt sophomore quarterback Steven Montez for that honor.
While Corral’s arm strength will not be replaced, the Trojans have already reached out to two 2018 quarterbacks in hopes of signing another top rated signal caller this recruiting cycle. USC could go without signing a quarterback in 2018, but with redshirt sophomore Sam Darnold projected as a top 10 first round pick in next year’s NFL Draft, the Trojans must recruit to maintain three scholarship quarterbacks on the roster.
Last year, USC signed San Clemente (Calif.) quarterback Jack Sears in anticipation of quarterback Max Browne's transfer. If Darnold leaves, Sears and redshirt freshman Matt Fink will be the only two scholarship quarterbacks USC has left on the roster.
With that said, USC offered a scholarship to San Marcos (Calif.) Mission Hills four-star quarterback Jack Tuttle Friday and also contacted Kennesaw (Ga.) Harrison five-star quarterback Justin Fields. Tuttle is currently committed to Utah, while Fields de-committed from Penn State last month. Fields currently favors Florida State, Georgia, Florida, Penn State and Auburn.
Tuttle told Scout National Recruiting Analyst Greg Biggins Saturday, "I'm honored to have the offer from USC, it's a great school but I'm 100-percent committed to Utah. For me, a commitment is a commitment. Once you build trust with someone, that's it."
In terms of fit, Fields offers more dual-threat capability at 6-foot-3, 220-pounds. Fields ran a 4.51 40-yard dash and 4.16 shuttle time at the Orlando Opening Regional, whereas Tuttle ran a 4.96 40-yard dash and 4.14 shuttle time at 6-foot-4, 196-pounds. For reference, Corral ran a 4.80 40-yard dash at the Opening Regional in Los Angeles while posting a 4.40 shuttle time.
Corona (Calif.) Centennial four-star Tanner McKee and Las Vegas (Nev.) Bishop Gorman four-star quarterback Dorian Thompson-Robinson are two other obvious prospects USC could consider. McKee was the talk of the Elite 11 Finals two weeks ago in Redondo (Calif.).
At 6-foot-6, 215-pounds, McKee scratched his testing numbers at The Opening Regional in Houston. Although he plays in a spread system that utilizes read option looks, McKee is not considered a dual-threat quarterback stylistically.
Scout had this to say after the Elite 11 Final workouts.
“Fields is an elite athlete with great passing ability, McKee plays in a spread system, but is a prototype pocket passer and Corral has great pocket sense, is a better athlete than given credit for and can make all the throws.”
[RELATED: Elite 11 Finals Awards]
Thompson-Robinson, who is committed to UCLA, ran a 4.79 40-yard dash and had a 4.21 shuttle to go with an impressive 34-inch vertical leap at The Opening Regional in Los Angeles. However, Thompson-Robinson has never started a high school football game as a quarterback at Bishop Gorman, so much of his strengths as a passer are projected from his offseason workouts.
Out of the top 30 quarterbacks ranked by Scout, only four remain uncommitted. It’s rare for USC to seek a quarterback in a class and not have that player committed going into his senior season. Most quarterbacks graduate in December, and with the early signing period now in effect, USC will have to push to get the process rolling with whatever options they have to work with.
The good news is that Sears' signing last year broke away from the quarterback commitment paradigm. Sears was committed to Duke for much of his senior season before he flipped that commitment to USC in November. So although it is uncommon to recruit a quarterback late in the process, a winning season combined with Darnold's Heisman hopes and draft stock could be enough to sway a top-rated quarterback away from another school.
The Trojans will host two on-campus camps next week, so there are other potential prospects that could arise from those events. And it is important to note, while the Trojans' offense is now viewed as a system predicated on the mobility of its quarterback, Clay Helton spent six years at USC recruiting pocket-passers exclusively.
In fact, one of the first players offered a scholarship in the 2018 class was Stanford quarterback commit Jack West from Saraland (Ala.). West is a pure pocket-passer at 6-foot-5, 220-pounds, so while the success of Sam Darnold suggests a prototype in the making for the Trojans, that is not a foregone conclusion. Remember, at this time last year, USC was preparing Max Browne as their starting quarterback.