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Who will it be? Breaking down USC's QB battle

CLASS OF 2019 RANKINGS: Rivals250 | State | Position | Team

CLASS OF 2020 RANKINGS: Rivals250 | State | Position

JT Daniels
JT Daniels (Nick Lucero/

RELATED: Breaking down Alabama's QB battle

The start of fall camps is right around the corner and at several major programs the focus will be on the quarterback position as former elite recruits battle it out for the starting job. In weeks leading up to the start of camp, we will take a look at some of the most high-profile battles and have National Recruiting Director Mike Farrell weigh in on how he sees things shaking out and why while also getting an opinion from one of our experts on the ground.

Today we look at the USC Trojans.


USC has produced its fair share of quality quarterbacks over the years and are once again faced with replacing a star at the position as a trio of players are battling to fill the void left by first round draft pick Sam Darnold. With the Pac-12 South Division wide open and the Trojans loaded with talent, which quarterback Clay Helton picks to run the offense could play a factor in not only the conference race, but the race for the College Football Playoff.


As a recruit: Daniels had a national list of offers but it was pretty clear from the early going that he wasn’t going to leave the West Coast and he committed to USC over Stanford during the summer of 2017.

College career: Daniels has yet to take a college snap and wasn’t even on campus for spring as he was initially a class of 2019 recruit before reclassifying and signing as a member of the 2018 class. But Daniels' talent is immense. If he had stayed in the 2019 class he would be ranked as the No. 1 quarterback in the country and likely the No. 1 overall player as well. He’s been on campus since June working out with the team and if all things are event it makes sense for the super-talented freshman to win the job.


As a recruit: Fink had several options as a high school recruit, including Notre Dame, Washington and UCLA. But after a strong push from the Trojans during the spring of his junior year, he elected to stay close to home and play for USC.

College career: Fink enrolled early in 2016 but spent that season redshirting behind Sam Darnold and former five-star Max Browne. In 2017, Fink was elevated to the backup behind Darnold and made a few appearances in mop-up duty, completing 6-of-9 passes for 43 yards. Despite his limited game action, Fink is the most experienced of the three quarterbacks competing for the job.

As a recruit: Sears weighed a national list of offers before committing to Duke just prior to the start of his senior season. But several schools didn’t give up on him, and eventually he flipped to USC just three months after initially pledging to the Blue Devils.

College career: Sears enrolled early with the Trojans in 2017, but was redshirted while serving as the team’s No. 3 quarterback behind Fink. A talented passer and an underrated athlete, Sears has some of the same physical attributes as Darnold, the same quarterback he succeeded at San Clemente High School.


“The competition is wide open at USC and yet it feels inevitable that JT Daniels will win it. Following an unremarkable spring from untested Matt Fink and Jack Sears, Daniels, who arrived in June, will be given every opportunity in training camp to claim the starting job.

"Given that a) there's not much ground for Daniels to make up, b) he seemingly possess the highest ceiling and c) the Trojans open the season at home against UNLV, the guess here is Daniels will be QB1 coming out of that game, if not before it.” – Adam Maya,


"I have never been a Matt Fink fan I always felt he was a reach for USC. The fact that Sears couldn’t pass him last year makes me wonder about his ceiling as well. So I’ll go with JT Daniels despite the fact that he could still be playing high school football this upcoming season. Daniels is a special talent at the position, picks things up very quickly and has the skill set to impact right away. With maturity beyond his years, Daniels steps in and takes the job."