One of the big reasons why Bakersfield (Calif.) Centennial pro-style quarterback Cody Kessler wanted to attend Southern Cal's junior day this past weekend was to meet new position coach Clay Helton, a new hire on first-year coach Lane Kiffin's staff.
Not only did Kessler and Helton chat but the two hit it off, further solidifying the Trojans as one of Kessler's top teams as his recruitment heats up. According to Kessler, Helton seems quite interested in continuing the relationship as Southern Cal puts together its quarterback board.
"(Helton) said he loved my tape," Kessler said. "He said he watched it and coach Kiffin pulled me over and talked to me for a minute and said he watched it and they loved it a lot.
"Coach Helton said it was very intriguing and he said they haven't offered any (quarterbacks) for this class so they're definitely breaking stuff down and putting their top players together. They're going to evaluate at camp and go from there pretty much.
"I loved coach (Jeremy) Bates when he was there. I worked with him at camp and I liked working with him and coach (Pete) Carroll of course. Coach Helton is a really nice guy and he talked to us about playing quarterback and all the stuff they do at SC and it was really cool talking to him."
Kessler, who threw for 2,195 yards and 12 touchdowns despite missing four games last season with an ankle injury, was one of the top quarterbacks at USC's Rising Stars Camp last summer.
He will return again hoping to top his performance - and hoping an offer might come from it. Now that he and Helton, who spent 10 seasons at Memphis and a couple months as the Arkansas State offensive coordinator before coming to Southern Cal, have talked Kessler hopes the relationship continues to blossom.
"When he called me he said he was only there for 5-6 days and he watched my film and he said, 'I had to call you and tell you I loved it and you have to come out to the junior day so I can talk to you,'" Kessler said. "That was pretty cool he called me that early. He's everything I like in a quarterbacks coach.
"Coach Helton said the reason he really knows me is because coach Bates was high on me. He watched my tape and he loved it and he said I'm very high on their list. I hope I come (to summer camp) and do just as good as I did last year, hopefully better."
It could be a big summer for Kessler, who already has offers from Pittsburgh, Washington State, Fresno State and New Mexico State. Alabama has recently gotten involved and he will take a visit to see the Crimson Tide and Pittsburgh later this month. Kessler's grandmother lives in Alabama so there is a connection there.
"They called my coach and asked about me," Kessler said. "They said they have four guys on top for quarterback and they said I was one of their guys so I called (the coach) and they asked if I was ever interested in coming out to Alabama or is that too far.
"I said no, it's definitely not too far. I told them I have an offer from Pitt. Wherever I fit, it's going to be hard leaving, but I'm not going to not go somewhere just because it's far away."
Kessler will also work out at an Elite 11 regional camp and is planning to visit Boise State for summer camp. Coach Chris Petersen recently sent an e-mail praising Kessler and the Broncos have recently significantly increased their recruiting efforts.
"I talked to coach Petersen, he said they were very, very interested," Kessler said. "In the e-mail he sent me, he said, 'You're our guy. You're the quarterback we want playing for the Broncos.' He said, 'I can definitely see you having a great career here,' so I called coach (Bryan) Harsin and he wanted me to call coach Petersen sometime this week."