The Sad Tale Of USC QBs

By Kyle Williams
Nov. 10, 2014

James Snook-USA TODAY Sports

USC. One of the most intriguing and prestigious schools in college football. Before Alabama became dominant in recruiting, USC would get the majority of the big names, especially QBs. They come in with all of the hype and destroy college teams, then suck in the pros. I'm going to give you a bunch of QBs from USC who failed to live up to their hype. 

Todd Marinovich, 1989-1991. The "Robo-QB" was suppose to become the best thing in the NFL. From an early age, Todd was trained by his dad to become an unstoppable physical specimen. He had great arm strength, light on his feet, and a knack for reading plays. In high school, Marinovich found it hard to deal with the pressure. He started drinking and doing marijuana after games. When he got to USC, he was finally free. At USC, he was good, but not quite the future "Franchise-Changer" he was suppose to be. After leaving college after his red-shirt-sophomore season, he was arrested a week bore the NFL Draft. Because of character concerns, Todd dropped to the bottom of the first round. He was taken by the Oakland Raiders. He struggled with the Raiders and they ultimately cut him. He battled a drug addiction and has since recovered. As a football player, he did not come even close to matching the hype.

Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

Carson Palmer, 1998-2002. Palmer came almost ten years after Todd. Carson entered USC with a lot of hype on his shoulders. He was suppose to be the QB to lead USC to the national championship as a freshman. He played okay his freshman season, throwing or 7 TDs and 6 INTs; he left a lot to be desired. In his sophomore season he broke his collarbone, and his junior season- well sophomore season- he had 16 TDs to 18 INTs. Palmer was on the fast track to being a USC QB bust before he even got to the NFL. Until his senior season. His senior season he won the Heisman trophy. He would then become the number one pick if the Cincinnati Bengals. He had a great season in 2005, then he got injured. He was never the same. He would then require Tommy John surgery on his throwing arm- the arm would take away his throwing power. After projected to be one of the elite QBs in football; the ACL injury just completely took away the confidence Palmer had in my opinion. Now, Palmer is a average QB whom at this point is just a game manager. 

Matt Leinart, 2001-2005. This, is where the article gets really interesting.  Leinart is a great example of a typical USC QB. A great college player who gets his flaws hid because of the talent around him. Matt Leinart had Reggie Bush in the backfield for the majority of his time at USC; he also had Mike Williams. Leinart put up huge numbers at USC but you can throw them out the window when scouting a player. Leinart, had average arm strength at best. However, he was pretty accurate. When he got to the NFL, it was a struggle for him. Leinart got thrown into the fire as a rookie. He also got injured on his throwing arm- what is it with USC QBs and arm and shoulder injuries? After Kurt Warner relieved Leinart of his starting job, he would never be a starter in the NFL again. 

Mark Sanchez, 2005-2008. Sanchez came into USC as the number one QB prospect, according to With Leinart returning, Sanchez red-shirted his freshman season. In Sanchez's only season as a starter, he threw for 34 TDs and 10 INTs. That was enough for the scouts to think that Sanchez good be a great QB in the NFL. For his first two seasons, Sanchez played a big part in the teams success. Sanchez had the benefit of a good running attack and a great defense. As the defense and running attack went away, the more Sanchez struggled. After injuring his shoulder, Sanchez would be the backup to Geno Smith and eventually cut by the team. Sanchez had the most success out of all these QBs.

Eric Hartline-USA TODAY Sports

Matt Barkley,2009-2012. Barkley was in the same boat as Matt Leinart. They both had great stats but both were surrounded by great talent. Barkley had a knack for reading the field in college. After passing up on a opportunity to go in the 2012 draft, he decided to stay for his senior season. In his college season he threw 15 INTs. His 15 INTs showed that his lack of arm strength would be a problem. While Barkley hasn't failed like the others, he hasn't been good when he has been given the opportunity.

Highly touted, the "next big thing", and highly disappointing. Those 3 words sum up USC QBs. Hope you enjoyed, Kyle out, peace.