Max Browne, a graduate of Skyline High School in Sammamish who lost his job as USC’s starting quarterback during the season, announced he will transfer to Pittsburgh. He is a graduate transfer, meaning he will be eligible to play in 2017.
LOS ANGELES – When Max Browne gave coach Clay Helton an update on his pending transfer recently, the USC quarterback gave Helton a list of schools he was considering.
Pittsburgh seemed especially appealing to Browne, Helton recalled.
“He was excited about it,” Helton said. “I think they were excited about him.”
Browne, a graduate of Skyline High School in Sammamish, made the decision final Thursday. He said he would transfer to play his final season of eligibility at Pittsburgh.
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Browne is a graduate transfer, meaning he will be eligible to play in 2017.
Browne visited the school last week.
Since then, Pittsburgh’s offensive coordinator, Matt Canada, left to take the same job at Louisiana State. Browne was not swayed.
“He must’ve been sold on the system that was there,” Helton said. “When you bring a quarterback in like Max that’s ultra-talented, you bring him in because you believe in him within the system. I would imagine that’s not going to change.”
Browne was rated the top high-school quarterback recruit in the nation by some services when he committed to USC. After a redshirt season behind starter Matt Barkley, Browne spent two seasons as the backup to Cody Kessler.
Browne started USC’s first three games this season before Helton replaced him with redshirt freshman Sam Darnold.
Shortly afterward, Browne said he intended to transfer after the season to seek more playing time. Helton expressed support for Browne’s decision, and USC permitted other teams to contact Browne during the season.
About two weeks ago, Browne announced USC’s final regular-season game against Notre Dame had been his last with the Trojans.
Helton again expressed support for Browne’s decision after it was revealed Thursday.
“I want nothing but the best for him,” Helton said. “He’s a special talent, a special kid and I know he’ll have a really bright future.”
Helton also praised the graduate-transfer rule, which allows students who have graduated to play for another school without sitting out for a season.
USC benefited from the rule this season when defensive tackle Stevie Tu’ikolovatu transferred from Utah, filling an urgent positional need. Tu’ikolovatu became one of USC’s most productive defensive players.
“You go four years, you get your degree at the university you came to, and maybe you’re behind some guys and you want to be able to have that last year to go play someplace,” Helton said. “So the graduate rule is a good option to have.”
Browne completed 58 of 93 passes this season for 507 yards, with two touchdowns with two interceptions.
Pittsburgh needs a quarterback next season to replace Nathan Peterman, who is a senior. The Panthers have three other scholarship quarterbacks on the roster: sophomore Bo Schneider and freshmen Ben DiNucci and Thomas MacVittie.
Pittsburgh (8-4) is playing Northwestern (6-6) in the Dec. 28 Pinstripe Bowl at Yankee Stadium in New York. USC (9-3) will face Penn State (11-2) in the Jan. 2 Rose Bowl in Pasadena, Calif.