Quarterback controversy becomes reality for USC

Despite what you might think, the quarterback position at USC is one that is far from solidified.

The No. 3 quarterback that is.

Handoff · If quarterbacks Matt Barkley and Mitch Mustain (not pictured) are hurt, the Trojans are unsure who would hand the ball off. Eric Wolfe | Daily Trojan

With sophomore Matt Barkley and senior Mitch Mustain etched in as the top two quarterbacks, there is little speculation about who will start the game.

The real question lies in who will come in if both those players get hurt.

Freshman running back Dillon Baxter is penciled in to be the third-string quarterback this year for the Trojans. Baxter played quarterback at Mission Bay High School and excelled, passing for more than 1,968 yards and 26 touchdowns last year. But Baxter has been suspended for the first game for violating team rules and will not travel with the team to Hawaii.

Next in line would be freshman quarterback Jesse Scroggins. Unfortunately, Scroggins has yet to be ruled eligible by the NCAA Clearinghouse and hasn’t practiced with the team since his 14-day grace period expired last week.

This is where visibility goes from hazy to oil spill.

Walk-on redshirt sophomores Emon Saee, John Manoogian and Brett Kan — a redshirt sophomore transfer from Princeton — seem to be next in line, but none of them have played on a stage this big before.

Manoogian is the most likely out of those three to win the job even though he has yet to see the field. He’s been on the practice squad for two years and has the most experience with the team.

But don’t forget about redshirt freshman James Boyd, the quarterback converted to defensive end, back to quarterback and finally to defensive end again. Boyd practiced for a few weeks with the quarterbacks in the spring but Kiffin has been adamant about keeping him on the defensive side of the ball.

As for now, the third-string quarterback might as well be Austin Powers — a man of mystery.