For Max Browne, patience must be considered a virtue right now.
Like so many other highly recruited quarterbacks in recent years, Browne came to USC with visions of early playing time and picking up right where he left off after a successful high school career.
As Matt Leinart, John David Booty, Mark Sanchez and even Cody Kessler can tell him, however, sometimes there is a process that takes place that delays that transition, and the process is completely normal.
Sure, every now and then there is a Carson Palmer or a Matt Barkley, guys who come in and end up as the starting quarterback during their first year on campus, but for the most part at a school like USC, there are going to be other established options on the roster that will limit the opportunities for a newcomer.
Leinart had to wait for two years behind Palmer; Booty sat for three years behind Leinart. Sanchez was also a reserve for three years before getting his shot.
Even Palmer was the backup to Mike Van Raaphorst for the first eight games of his freshman season. Barkley enrolled early for spring in 2009, but Aaron Corp won the job at the end of spring ball. Corp got hurt in fall camp, which opened the door for Barkley to be named the starter by Pete Carroll.
The point of this is to remind Browne that while he didn’t get the starting QB job in spring, there is plenty of time left in his USC career to realize the potential that everyone seems to think he has.
There might have been talk from a new coach about competition and, in fairness to Steve Sarkisian, that’s what he had to say. But the reality was that the Trojans had a solid incumbent in Kessler and it was going to be a tough road for Browne to unseat him in one spring ball session.
Browne came out this spring looking physically bulked up and by all accounts he made the type of progress you would want to see from a player in his first full offseason at the college level. But even though Browne played well, Kessler played better, and Sarkisian made the correct decision in confirming that Kessler would be the starter heading into fall camp.
There were some USC fans, and even some in the national media, who had been expecting the more highly-touted Browne to take over, so naturally there were questions asking if Browne had somehow been overrated or if this decision was somehow a negative comment on his performance.
The answer to those questions is no. Browne is likely going to be a very good college quarterback someday. There are too many positive attributes in his skill set both on and off the field to think otherwise. It’s just that he went up against a quarterback who has two more years of experience at USC, including a solid one as a starter, and that can mean a lot sometimes.
The best thing for Browne right now is to simply stay the course. Keep bulking up in the weight room. Keep making progress this summer in the throwing sessions. Coaches and teammates see the work he puts in, and he has their respect. Chances are he will get some opportunities this fall in a reserve role and he can start to build from that. It will take some patience for Browne as he waits for his time, but recent history of other USC quarterbacks who have waited shows that it will be worth it when it happens.