Barkley's career arc intrigues Browne

USC continued its recruiting roll Wednesday evening as ESPNU 150 Watch List quarterback Max Browne (Sammamish, Wash./Skyline) made a verbal commitment to coach Lane Kiffin and the Trojans.

After missing out on signing a quarterback in the class of 2012, the Trojans turned their full attention to Browne in this year’s class, as they offered a scholarship during his unofficial visit to campus in early February for USC’s junior day. Browne said the offer caught him off guard initially, as he was expecting the Trojans to wait until the spring evaluation period to determine whether or not they would offer.

Over the two months that followed, there were several big draws for Browne to USC, and many of them began with quarterback Matt Barkley.

The fact that Barkley started as a true freshman has been a selling point to quarterbacks during his career, as the propensity to put first year players on the field continues to be viewed as a strong positive for all recruits, and quarterbacks in particular. Barkley’s decision to stay for his senior year not only allowed him to be on campus to help recruit Browne, but it also plugged the quarterback position for an extra year, which means the competition for the starting spot could be wide open when Browne enters USC as an early enrollee in January. USC also received a boost from Browne’s older brother, Mitch, who lives in the Los Angeles area with his wife and daughter, and hosted the quarterback and his father during their most recent trip to USC.

Browne also developed a solid relationship with USC quarterbacks coach Clay Helton, which proved important, as Browne was also close with Oklahoma quarterbacks coach Josh Heupel as well as Alabama quarterbacks coach Doug Nussmeier, who was familiar with Browne from his time as the offensive coordinator at Washington.

Browne’s commitment continues a very good week for USC, which picked up a verbal commitment from ESPNU 150 Watch List cornerback Chris Hawkins (Rancho Cucamonga, Calif./Rancho Cucamonga) after Sunday’s Los Angeles Nike Football Training Camp. Those two will be added to another ESPNU 150 Watch List prospect in defensive tackle Kenny Bigelow (Elkton, Md./Eastern Christian Academy). But that might only be the start of something big for Kiffin and the Trojans.

During Browne’s visit this past weekend, he had an opportunity to spend time with several of USC’s top in-state targets, including linebackers Michael Hutchings (Concord, Calif./De La Salle) and Su’a Cravens (Murrieta, Calif./Vista Murrieta), safety Tahaan Goodman (Rancho Cucamonga, Calif./Rancho Cucamonga), defensive end Joe Mathis (Upland, Calif./Upland) and Hawkins, as well as cornerback Priest Willis (Tempe, Ariz./Marcos De Niza). Each is a member of the ESPNU 150 Watch List and among that group, with Browne included and the linebacker duo leading the way, there is talk about all or a majority of them committing to the same school.

For now, however, Kiffin and staff will be content knowing that they hauled in perhaps their top overall target for the class of 2013.