Why Max Wittek Chose USC

A week or so ago, Max Wittek of the Monarchs committed to the Trojans, another big kid (6-4, 220) with 4.6 speed and, according to coach Bruce Rollinson, himself a former USC wide receiver, a ``strong arm and good touch.''

The parade continues -- another Mater Dei quarterback to USC.

A week or so ago, Max Wittek of the Monarchs committed to the Trojans, another big kid (6-4, 220) with 4.6 speed and, according to coach Bruce Rollinson, himself a former USC wide receiver, a ``strong arm and good touch.''

How does Rollinson, who has been head coach at the Santa Ana school since 1999, continue to turn out first-rate quarterbacks? For your information, Wittek will be the ninth Mater Dei quarterback of his to receive a Division I scholarship. Get that? Nine -- one of whom was Matt Leinart, who led the Trojans to a national championship in 2004 and won the Heisman Trophy the same year. And, as a freshman last season, Matt Barkley started every game for the Trojans except the one he sat out with an injury. Others are Colt Brennan, Hawaii (third in 2007 Heisman balloting); Billy Blanton, San Diego State; John Flynn, Air Force Academy; Nick Stremick, Oregon State; John Leonard, Arizona State/Cincinnati, and Jason Forcier, Stanford.

Before Rollinson took over the Mater Dei program, the Monarchs sent two other ot the school's quarterbacks to the Trojans -- 1965 CIF Player of Year Pete Sanchez and Todd Marinovich, who played his last two years of prep football at Capistrano Valley. Sanchez sustained a serious leg injury in an auto accident afterr his freshman season and never played football again. Marinovich left school early and was a first-round National Football League draft choice.

Above all else, Rollinson wants it known that he doesn't want credit for the success of Mater Dei quarterbacks.

``The coach who deserves all the credit is Dave Money, who played for me at Santa Ana College and coaches our quarterbacks,'' Rollinson said. ``I just turn everything over to him, and he runs my offense. And, as you can see, he does a heck of a job.''

Rollinson said the Monarchs don't have to go out and look for quarterbacks.

``They know the success we've had here with our quarterbacks and they know they'll be well-prepared for college after they have played for us,'' he said. ``That's our selling point.''

He dismissed assertions that he steers players to USC, his alma mater.

``I don't push any player toward any school,'' he said. ``That decision is up to the player. The attraction for USC might be the fact that we use the USC system, so they know what they're getting into.''

Rollinson said Wittek also gave serious consideration to Florida, Georgia and North Carolina, the latter university because Witte had met Tarheels coach Butch Davis at summer camps.

``The timing was perfect for Max at USC,'' said Rollinson. ``Mitch Mustain graduates after this season and Barkley may stay there only through his junior year. They're bringing in one quarterback (Jesse Scroggins of Lakewood) this year, so, in Witte's second year, he could be battling for the starting job.''

USC coach Lane Kiffin and his staff are off to a good start. On April 15, the first day in which coaches were allowed to contact recruits by telephone, Kiffin had a staff meeting at 3 a.m. and calls began in the early hours of the morning. About 45 players were contacted.

Witte and defensive lineman Antwaun Woods are the only commitments for the class of 2011, but could be more in the near future.

Highly prized defensive end Greg Townsend of Beverly Hills indicated recently that he might be ready to commit, then said he had decided to wait for awhile. Jalen Grimble, a defensive lineman from Bishop Gorman in Las Vegas, whose cousin, Xavier, joins the Trojans this fall after being ranked the No. 1 prep tight end in the nation, might be the next commitment.

But perhaps much of the excitement of approaching weeks could be the battle for DeAnthony Thomas of Los Angeles Crenshaw, also known as the ``Black Mamba.'' Thomas is a sensational as a running back and is probably the No. 1 cornerback prospect in the nation. He said recently that ``every school is recruiting me for defense, as well as offense.''

Whether Thomas plays offense or defense, he'll create excitement.

Offers have been made to more than 40 players, many from out of state because the new USC coaching staff first wants to evaluate California talent at an approaching Rising Stars Camp.

Hang onto the railing -- it's going to be an exciting ride.


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