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February 7, 2014

USC QB Max Wittek talks about upcoming visit to Texas

USC quarterback Max Wittek, who will graduate this semester with a degree in psychology and then transfer with two years of eligibility, will visit Texas next weekend.

Despite strong speculation Wittek will end up in Austin (he has a comfort level with Texas RB coach Tommie Robinson, who was at USC last year), Wittek says he'll also visit Louisville, Hawaii and maybe others before starting to narrow his decision in a month or so.

"Texas is my first visit, so I think a lot of people are reading into it," Wittek told Orangebloods.com Friday. "But it's nothing more than that at this point. I'm going to keep an open mind through this whole process."

But even he wonders what to make of seeing Vince Young in a supermarket in Los Angeles recently.

"I'm checking out, and in walks Vince Young," Wittek said. "I thought that was an incredible coincidence. Who knows what that means? But I thought it was pretty crazy."

A Rivals Top 100 prospect out of Mater Dei (Calif), Wittek completed 50 of 95 passes (52.6 percent) for 600 yards with 3 TDs and 6 INTs in 14 appearances in 2012 and 2013 at USC.

Wittek started the final two games of a 7-6 season in 2012 for an injured Matt Barkley against Notre Dame and in the Sun Bowl against Georgia Tech. Wittek was 14 of 23 passing for 186 yards with 1 TD and 2 INTs in a 22-13 loss to the Fighting Irish.

In 20 mph winds in the Sun Bowl, Wittek was 14 of 37 passing for 107 yards with 1 TD and 3 INTs in a 21-7 loss to Georgia Tech.

In 2014, Wittek saw action in six games as the backup to redshirt sophomore Cody Kessler (14 starts, 236 of 361 passing, 65.4 percent, 2,968 yards, 20 TDs, 7 INTs).

Asked why things didn't work out at USC, where he was recruited by Pete Carroll but ended up with Lane Kiffin as his coach (until Kiffin was fired during the 2013 season and replaced by Ed Orgeron), Wittek made no excuses.

"The reality is it played out how it did," Wittek said. "I'm just going to learn from all that and make myself better. I wouldn't be the man I am today if all that hadn't happened. I'm going to make the most of it and move forward and do better because of it."

Wittek, who will seek a graduate degree in either psychology or business, said he's looking at his "fresh start" as an opportunity to approach football the way quarterbacks do in the NFL.

"I've been through a lot here (at USC)," Wittek said. "When I get to wherever I'm going, my class load is going to be a lot less than what I'm used to. So I'm going to be looking at myself moreso as a pro and spending all that extra time up in the football office with the coaching staff."

As soon as Wittek got permission to reopen his recruitment, he was contacted by Texas RB coach Tommie Robinson, who coached RBs at USC last season.

"Coach Robinson is one of the straightest shooters I've ever met," Wittek said. "He's never going to lie to you. He looks you straight in the eye and tells you exactly how he feels.

"If you didn't run the play exactly how he thinks you should have, he'll tell you straight up. He's a fiery guy.

"From my experience talking with all the running backs who had him last year, they had nothing but respect for him and learned so much. I think it's a true blessing for him to be there. "

Wittek doesn't have a previous relationship with Bobby Petrino at Louisville or Norm Chow at Hawaii. But he respects their pedigree.

"Coach Petrino is a great, offensive minded coach," Wittek said. "Hawaii has Norm Chow who has produced tremendous quarterbacks. These coaches, their names carry a lot of weight in the world of football. If you get their blessing, those are things that mean a lot. Those are all factors that will go into my decision."

Wittek said relationships with coaches, the opportunity to start right away and joining a team with a chance to win big will all factor into his decision. Wittek said he's been studying Texas' personnel and is impressed with the starters who return in 2014.

"I've been looking up these guys and seeing the incredible things they can do, so personnel is definitely a big factor," Wittek said.

Wittek, who is 6-4 and 235 pounds, said he would bring confidence and experience to a new team.

"I don't feel like there's any place on the field that I can't put the ball for my receiver to make a play," he said. "I want to get the ball into my playmakers' hands and let them do what they do best, whether that's a little swing route in the flat or pushing the ball down the field.

"Making those right decisions and just putting them in position to do what they do. I always say I don't want the ball, I want to get to the ball to these guys and let them do them."

Wittek said he's losing weight and training to show his new team he has the ability to make plays with his feet.

"I think a lot of people look at me as a true pocket passer, which I think I am," Wittek said. "But I do have some wheels.

"In high school, I ran moreso. I was a lot lighter then. I have been training really hard, since I've made this decision, to get myself into the best shape possible moving forward, losing a couple pounds and working on my speed.

"I think a lot of people will be surprised about how well I can actually move. I think that's one of the underrated things about me. I do have a little bit of athleticism."

When he thinks of Texas, Wittek said he, of course, thinks of VY and his incredible national title run against USC. But he also thinks of "hard-nosed football" with guys like Ricky Williams and Cedric Benson.

"It's a great school with a big-time program in a great city where football is taken very seriously," Wittek said.

When asked about competing with QBs David Ash, Tyrone Swoopes and incoming freshman Jerrod Heard, Wittek said he'd be up for the challenge.

"I think it has fresh start written all over it - with a new coaching staff coming in," he said. "I always look at the relationships I'll have with the coaches. I'll be graduated, so my class load will be less than what it has been, and I'll be spending a lot of time up in the offices.

"I'm looking for a great relationship with the staff so I can spend all my extra time making myself better and best for this team."

Now, about that VY sighting …


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