I was out at the summer workouts again on Friday. The temperature was right about 70 degrees when I walked onto the Dean Cromwell Track and Field complex.
I'd spent the evening before with my niece and nephew from Ohio. They love their Buckeyes. When I got to Dean Cromwell Field I struck up a conversation with a student from Notre Dame who is interning with Gary Klein at the LA Times.
The intern will be back at Notre Dame when the school year starts covering the Fighting Irish. He gave me some insights on what things are like there. He shared with me what the Irish football team is going to be like this year, and what it's like working with Charlie Weis. So I picked up some good stuff on the Buckeyes and the Irish over the past 24 hours.
Coach Carlisle had just finished with conditioning drills when I walked onto Dean Cromwell. And then QB Matt Barkley walked out with the bag of footballs.
While I was watching QBs Matt Barkley and Aaron Corp today my mind went back to all the USC QBs I have seen play over the years, and those who were before me. The Trojans have seen dozens of their quarterbacks head to the pros, or at least be drafted, and many of the names are very familiar. Players like Pat Haden, Pete Beathard, Vince Evans, Rodney Peete, and Bill Nelsen all had long, productive pro careers.
Carson Palmer became the first USC quarterback to win the Heisman in 2002. Other notable USC QBs include Rudy Bukich, Todd Marinovich, Sean Salisbury, and Paul McDonald. And, don't forget Matt Leinart, who I would put at the head of the list. QB Kyle Wachholtz played TE for the Packers.
USC QBs Mort Kaer, Morley Drury, Orv Mohler, Gus Shaver, Cotton Warburton, Grenny Landsell and Jim Hardy were All-Americans. Hardy was drafted in 1945 in the 1st round by the Washington Redskins. QB Ambrose Schindler led the Trojans to a National Championship in 1939.
These QB are my dad's and grandpa's heroes. Jim Sears, an All American in 1952 was a halfback, but was USC's leading passer. He finished seventh in the Heisman voting.
Matt Cassell just got a 63 million dollar contract with Kansas City and never started a game at USC. Rob Johnson played several years in the NFL. Rob Hertel played for the Eagles and Bengals. Pat O'Hara played one year for the Chargers. Mike Rae played for the Raiders, Bucs and Redskins.
Scott Tinsley played for the Eagles. Ben Charles was a QB for the Bears. Ben played with Bill Nelsen in '61 and Pete Beathard. Brad Otton signed with the Redskins, but couldn't overcome an ACL injury. After being quarterbacks coach for John Robinson, Brad started a pizza restaurant in Las Vegas and hopes to get back into coaching.
Jim Powers was the Trojan QB after WWII and is still in the top 20 of all-time passing leaders. QBs Jimmy Jones, Steve Sogge, John Fox and Mike Van Raaphorst are on that list. Don't forget Toby Page who handed the ball to OJ Simpson in the 1967 USC/UCLA game. QB Troy Winslow is also in the top 20 in passing. QB Reggie Perry is in the top 25. QB Bobby Robertson led USC in scoring in 1940-41.
How about 4th string QB Doyle Nave who was put into the 1939 Rose Bowl with two minutes to go? Nave threw four passes, the last for a touchdown to beat undefeated and unscored upon Duke, 7-3. Nave threw all four passes to 2nd string end Al Krueger. Doyle Nave went on to the NFL.
QBs Russ Sanders and Homer Griffith were the Rose Bowl MVPs in 1930 and 1933. Did you forget WR and All-American Curtis Conway also played some QB at USC?
What a line of great QBs! But there is a chance the greatest may have been on the practice field today. I noticed there was a glow that follows Matt Barkley. It's evident that there is greatness in him. Seeing him reminded me of when OJ Simpson came on the USC campus back in 1967. I had seen Simpson play in junior college, and you knew you could be watching the best running back to ever play the game of college football.
As great as Barkley is going to be, I'm not sure Matt would be the quarterback I'd rather not face if I was the defensive coordinator on one of the teams USC faces this year. Matt Barkley would be a headache, but trying to prepare for Aaron Corp could give you a migraine.
Most coaches would rather face a QB where they know where he is going to be. A QB that can run is hard to prepare for. There's been talk that Aaron Corp would minimize mistakes, but maybe not maximize the potential of an offense that has 9 starters returning. Coach Harvey Hyde, who does the Trojan's pregame show, said this very thing on the radio this week. But it's been echoing since spring practice began.
Coach Hyde also brought up the question, "which QB would you rather face if you were a defensive coordinator?" I thought it was a great question and something we could talk about.
If Aaron Corp starts, it will not limit USC's offense in any way. That kind of talk would stop if you had seen Aaron Corp during the spring or at the workouts this summer. Corp adds something to the QB position USC hasn't had since Rodney Peete. Corp can run for first downs. And Aaron is faster than Rodney Peete.
Corp can get out of the pocket. If you are on defense you can't just get in your stance, put your head down and go get him. He won't be there. You can't run him down either because he is faster than you are. You have to know every time he drops back to pass he can pull it down and kill you with the run.
Aaron ran the veer offense at Orange Lutheran. It was tailor made for Corp because he is so athletic. I think that is something we all know about Aaron. But maybe there are a few things most of us might not know unless we've had a chance to watch him in practice the past two years. Corp is not only athletic he is also very accurate and unflappable. He makes good decisions. I would put him ahead of Mark Sanchez at the same time in their careers at USC.
Here's some high school scouting reports on Aaron Corp:
"He's a dual threat but can keep his eyes down field. He can make plays within the tackles and is very accurate rolling out. At the elite 11 he won the most accurate QB in camp. He doesn't have a big time arm, but in the same way Matt Leinart did he relies on timing and accuracy. He can find 2nd and 3rd receivers and makes great decisions. He was voted 2nd best in chalk talks at the elite 11."
That was in high school. Aaron is a much better passer now, than when he came to USC. He was very impressive today in all his throws. Last year at workouts the players called him, "Mr Checkdown" if he threw to a back. Friday if he missed a pass down field the players start yelling, "Barkley."
The USC players know there is a competition going on. They are in awe of Barkley's arm strength and his ability as a true freshman. But Corp is still the man out there.
QB Aaron Corp isn't just the safer choice. Right now he could be the better choice. And he could be the USC QB I wouldn't want to face as a defensive coordinator.
Aaron Corp gives the Trojans a running threat at QB. (Jaime Rodriguez Photo)