Things have been moving quickly for the Texas Longhorns with USC Trojans graduate transfer Max Wittek in the days since he announced his intentions to transfer from USC in his pursuit for more playing time.
According to a report from 247Sports, Wittek will take a visit to Texas next weekend ($) in order to assess the program and meet with the coaching staff. He has also been in contact with Louisville, which appears to be the primary competition for the Longhorns, perhaps a fitting turn of events given that new head coach Charlie Strong left Louisville for Texas.
Wittek shared the appeal of the Longhorns for him:
The thing that's most appealing (about the Texas coaching staff) is what they did at Louisville, looking at the way they managed that offense and the relationship Teddy (Bridgewater) had with Coach Watson and Coach Strong. Those are things I look heavily into because I want to have a great relationship with the coaching staff. Being a grad student my class obligations will be less than they have been so I'm really looking to spend more time up in the offices and I really want to have that good relationship with the coaching staff.
Wittek will have two years of eligibility remaining when he graduates this spring and Horns247 reported earlier in the week that the 6'4, 235-pound Wittek has the Longhorns 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.
The question now is which program will be more appealing for Wittek. Obviously, the prestige of Texas and the positive impressions Wittek already has of the coaching staff help the Longhorns tremendously, but if it comes down to the possibility of significant playing time and a real shot at winning the starting job, Louisville is far away a better fit for the soon-to-be former Trojan.
Teddy Bridgewater is headed off to the NFL a season early, so the Cardinals are looking for a new starter at the position. Redshirt sophomore Will Gardner attempted 12 passes last season and is first in line for the job after serving as the back up in 2013, meaning that Wittek would have an advantage in experience over Gardner.
The prospects for early playing time probably could have kept the Longhorns out of some similar situations in recent years, even though the staff mostly opted not to pursue potential additions, but it could happen in this case.
Telling Wittek that he will have a chance to compete for the job in the fall is a possibility, though David Ash should be entrenched as the starter once again by that point unless things completely fall apart for him this spring.
If it comes down purely to the opportunities for playing time, Texas isn't going to land Wittek in a head-to-head battle against Louisville.
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