Before the arrival of Pete Carroll, the USC Trojans had in its collection, four Heisman Trophies over some 80 years of football. All of those trophies were garnered by tailbacks, and all during the John McKay-John Robinson era. In walked Coach Carroll, and the Trojans quickly amassed three more trophies. One by a tailback (Reggie Bush) and two by quarterbacks (Carson Palmer and Matt Leinart).
During his reign, Coach Carroll signed high school quarterback phenoms: John David Booty, Mark Sanchez, Mitch Mustain (by way of transfer), Aaron Corp and recently got a commitment from national player of the year (junior) quarterback Matt Barkley.
Of Sanchez, Mustain, Corp and Barkley, who will win the next trophy for USC?
A Question of Possibilities
Heisman Trophies are not easily attained. USC, with its tradition of Heisman Candidates waited 20 years between Heisman Trophies before the arrival of Pete Carroll.
Pete Carroll is still in town and the talent pool at USC is very, very rich. But will this translate to a trophy? SCPlaybook discusses the possible quarterback candidates for the Heisman Trophy.
Mark Sanchez, the talented redshirt Junior will be leading the Trojans this fall. It will be his first year at the helm. Sanchez was highly regarded out of high school but had to wait behind Matt Leinart and John David Booty for a chance at starting.
Sanchez has three games under his belt, with a 2-1 record leading the Trojans. He started three games for USC in 2007 while Booty recovered from a broken finger in his throwing hand.
Pros – Sanchez will be in his fourth year at USC and knows the system, players and coaches. Escapability - Sanchez will be the first quarterback in a while that will be able to scramble out of trouble or create plays once a play is broken down. A fiery, emotional player, Coach Pete Carroll is fond of calling Sanchez a ‘gunslinger.'
Cons – Still unproven, Sanchez played respectably in 2007 at Oregon in a narrow loss. At 6'3", Sanchez is slightly undersized.
Outlook – Sanchez has two years to win a trophy. He has a long way to go to prove his worth. He will be in the running if he performs well, and comes out of the season with one-loss or is undefeated.
Pros – Mitch Mustain is smooth and self-confident. He is unassuming, soft-spoken and always seems to be able to thread the needle on tight passes. He shows a lot of promise.
Cons – Mustain may have to wait three years to show his worth. He will likely be the number one backup to Sanchez for the next two years.
Outlook – If everything goes as expected, Sanchez will have the starting duties in 2008 and 2009. This gives Mustain one year, 2010 to prove himself, with Aaron Corp and Matt Barkley breathing down his neck for playing time.
Pros – Aaron Corp is the most mobile of all the USC quarterbacks. He is determined and works diligently on improving his arm and accuracy.
Cons – Corp could be the ‘last man out,' sitting behind Sanchez, Mustain and possibly Matt Barkley.
Outlook – The longshot at starting in the next few years. He is an excellent quarterback with dual-threat abilities.
Pros – Matt Barkley is an incredibly gifted quarterback who shows a lot of promise. As a junior, Barkley won the unprecedented honor of national player of the year. The press on Barkley is that he may be the best quarterback out of high school in quite some time.
Cons – Barkley will embark on his senior high school season this fall. He may be a great quarterback, but he may also have many years before he can show his abilities on the college gridiron.
Outlook – Barkley shows a lot of promise. It's a long time between now and when he will see the field for the Trojans.
Most Likely to Win the Heisman:
The Trojans may, against all odds, may come up with two Heisman Trophies over the next 7 years. Barkley, Sanchez and Mustain are likely candidates in order of likelihood.