Is Texas now the most likely destination for USC QB transfer Max Wittek?

Harry How

The Horns may not have to settle for walk on Bram Kohlhausen after all.

During all the National Signing Day madness that is tracking all the faxes coming in from prospects sending their National Letters of Intent, Horns247 broke the news that the Texas Longhorns may be the leading destination ($) for USC Trojans graduate transfer quarterback Max Wittek.

According to another report, from InsideTroy, the USC Rivals affiliate, Wittek has only one visit planned at this time -- a trip to Texas, so consider the news from Horns247 substantiated in that regard.

The news comes a day after a report from the Los Angeles Daily News that former Houston Cougars quarterback Bram Kohlhausen was planning on walking on at Texas, a report that Kohlhausen himself had to deny to multiple news outlets on Tuesday, saying that nothing was yet set.

Though Kohlhausen no longer has the FCS options he did before he missed most of his sophomore season with an injured non-throwing shoulder, if the Horns land Wittek, that would surely reduce his desire to compete with reps with a player more experienced at the major-college level.

Wittek will have two years of eligibility remaining when he graduates this spring and Horns247 is saying that he has already spoken with the Texas staff and has them at the top of his list. New Texas running backs coach Tommie Robinson has a connection to Wittek after he was a member of the USC staff last season and may have helped connect Wittek to the rest of the offensive coaching staff now in Austin.

A four-star prospect out of Santa Ana (Calif.) Mater Dei in 2011, Wittek enrolled early at USC over numerous high-profile offers, including Clemson, Florida, Florida State, Notre Dame, South Carolina, and UCLA. Then listed at 6'4 and 215 pounds, the No. 3 pro-style passer nationally by Rivals was expected to succeed fellow Mater Dei alum Matt Barkely as the starter for the Trojans.

In 2012, Wittek had his chance to replace an injured Barkley, throwing for 186 yards on 14-of-23 passing against Notre Dame in a losing effort that also included one touchdown pass and two interceptions. His subsequent showing against Georgia Tech in the Sun Bowl was less promising, however, featuring three interceptions, a 37.8% completion percentage and only 107 yards on 14 attempts.

Appearances in the first three games of 2013 were not enough to land Wittek the job over Cody Kessler, who went on to turn in a solid season with an adjusted QBR of 66.7, right about what Case McCoy managed.

And if the current coaching staff has anything to take away from the recent quarterback mismanagement at Texas that left the Horns with no other options other than Case McCoy last fall when David Ash was hurt, ensuring that there is an experienced player behind Ash this fall due to the possibility of continued concussion-related issues would definitely be an easy and perhaps even necessary takeaway.

Would bringing in another quarterback with eligibility impact sophomore Tyrone Swoopes, who was not able to benefit from either a redshirt season or a significant amount of playing time as a freshman? It's possible, as he would have some significant competition for the right to be the first quarterback off the bench in the result of an injury to Ash or 2011-style ineffectiveness from the prospective Texas starter, but making a decision based on potentially losing a quarterback is probably not in the best interest of the program.

Still, there's no question that bringing in Wittek would push Swoopes closer to a possible transfer if he lost ground on the depth chart. And Swoopes still has much more upside than a player who has already proven ineffective in the college game.

Another negative with Wittek is that he didn't graduate mid term, so he wouldn't be on campus until the summer, decreasing the chances that he would even be in a position to beat out Swoopes.

On the other hand, entering the season with only three scholarship quarterbacks risks burning Jerrod Heard's redshirt if Ash goes down with another injury. Jalen Overstreet is an emergency option, but his future looks brightest at another position, perhaps even linebacker.

Getting Kohlhausen on campus without using a scholarship would provide some level of insurance, but Wittek actually has a legitimate shot to beat out Swoopes. After having no other ready options beyond McCoy last year, that's a risk that the coaching staff probably shouldn't take just because it could damage things with Swoopes.

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