USC Football: Is Lane Kiffin Hedging His Bets with 2014 Quarterback Offers?

Rick McMahan@@RickMcMahanSenior Writer IJune 18, 2013

Max Wittek
Max WittekHarry How/Getty Images

The worst kept secret regarding USC football recently is that the Trojans have been suffering from a dearth of scholarships since the NCAA laid hammer down on the program, courtesy of the Reggie Bush scandal.

The intended consequences of these mandated sanctions—the loss of 10 scholarships per year, resulting in 75 scholarship players max in any one season—has manifested a roster that has often seen USC playing games with 65 or less full-ride players.

Because of this, any scholarships USC has to offer have been treated like precious commodities—which they are—and this has meant that many talented players, who otherwise would have been offered one in other years, have not received one now.

Simply put, a USC scholarship offer comes with an abundance of scrutiny by the coaching staff, and well it should.

So why are the Trojans offering quarterbacks for the 2014 class?

Okay, so they have only offered one—Keller Chryst from Palo Alto High School (Palo Alto, CA)—so far this year, but they are on the cusp of offering another as well.

First, Chryst is rated a 5-star prospect by and is a 6'3", 215 pound pro-style quarterback with a rocket for an arm—a prototypical USC quarterback, perfect for the system they run.

In other words, the kind of guy you make room for no matter what.

Chryst has recently cut his list down to six, and although Stanford appears to have the inside track, USC has also made it as one of his final choices as well.

But it is looking more and more like the Trojans aren't done shopping for quarterbacks in 2014.

Brandon Dawkins—a fast-rising 6'4", 215 pound dual-threat gun slinger—is also on the cusp of receiving an offer, and if he gets one, it is very likely that we will see him in Cardinal and Gold next year.

Dawkins, who plays for California powerhouse Oaks Christian High School in Westlake Village, has been dominating the local 7 on 7 camps and is drawing a ton of interest from some very good programs, including Notre Dame, who has also offered.

But it's the USC offer that Dawkins covets and it may be coming as soon as later this month. (paid link)

Which brings us back to the question of why USC is offering any quarterback at all?

At last check, the Trojans are in possession of two very good redshirt sophomores (Cody Kessler and Max Wittek) and mega recruit Max Browne.

Plus, in 2015, USC will welcome David Sills, a polished quarterback who may be better than any of the previously mentioned signal callers on the roster.

Realistically, it would appear that the Trojans are pretty well set at the position, and that there is little justification to spend one of those precious "schollies" on someone who may be destined to ride the pine.Except that may not be true and these offers may simply be a case of a coach preparing for a worst-case scenario.

You see, among the myriad of questions head coach Lane Kiffin will need to answer when camp opens this fall is exactly who will take over at quarterback for the now departed Matt Barkley?

The smart money has this as a battle between Kessler and Wittek, with Browne likely to get a redshirt in 2013.

Regardless of whom the eventual winner for the starting position is, there will also be a loser who will be relegated to backup status. And that may not go over well with the also-ran. In fact, it may result in that player bidding the Trojans a fond adieu.

If that happens, USC is only a couple of injuries away from not having a scholarship quarterback in 2014.

This would be the very definition of an unmitigated disaster and one that Kiffin can't possibly entertain as the head man responsible for the program.Now, it should be noted that Kiffin was intelligent enough to "bank" a couple of extra scholarships for the class of 2014 when he only signed 12 players in last year's class (plus 2011 class member Darreus Rogers).

Which is good because that old adage "hope for the best but prepare for the worst" is a credo that Kiffin appears to be adhering to.

Just in case.