first_imgWhile USC has been in the spotlight all season in the wake of former head coach Steve Sarkisian’s firing and its comeback in the second half of the season under interim head coach Clay Helton, one Trojan has quietly looked on from the sidelines patiently waiting for his turn. Redshirt sophomore quarterback Max Browne has spent the past three years preparing to assume redshirt senior Cody Kessler’s role as starting quarterback.The Sammamish, Washington, native graduated from Skyline High School in December 2012, a semester early, and immediately enrolled in classes and began participating in spring practices. Browne initially battled Kessler for the starting job before Kessler ultimately won, forcing Browne to sit behind him for two seasons. The experience was not lost on Browne, however, as he has used the past two years to learn from his predecessor.“I think the biggest thing I’ve learned from him and the whole process is just competing with him,” Browne said. “There were two springs where I was battling for the starting job with him. You learn a lot about yourself when things don’t go your way. I’ve kind of been able to sit back and see how he approaches the game and everyday reps which has been good to learn from. I think competing with him head on and learning more about myself is probably the biggest thing.”If Browne has managed to fly under the radar so far at USC, he’ll be thrust into the spotlight when he makes his debut as starting quarterback next season against Alabama and its offensive coordinator, former USC head coach Lane Kiffin.“As far as playing my old coach, I think it’ll be a little odd looking across the sidelines and knowing that that’s the guy that I came to college to play for, but it’s not gonna be anything personal or anything like that,” Browne said. “I just think it’s just a big game in general. It’s two huge national powers, and I’m sure it’ll be a huge driving force for our whole team this offseason. I’m excited and can’t wait.”Browne has played under three head coaches since Kiffin in as many years at USC. Despite the head coaching duties changing hands so many times, Helton has been a consistent presence for Browne and has helped him adjust to the coaching changes.“It’s affected everyone on the team a lot just because it’s been kind of a carousel, but for me personally, it’s been nice that Helton has stayed here the whole time,” Browne said. “He’s the guy that recruited me. That’s stayed consistent for me, which has been nice, especially since quarterback is such a high pressure position.”Despite a loss at Oregon last weekend, Browne is hopeful that the team can close the regular season with a win over UCLA and capture a Pac-12 title, possibly removing the interim tag from Helton’s title.“I hope we can finish these last few weeks out the right way,” Browne said.Regardless of who is head coach next season, Browne will spend the offseason preparing to lead his team. He has set his sights on bringing a national championship back to USC.“It’s bold, but I think that’s the bar we set — and with all the talent we have on our team and the recruiting classes we’ve had and the coaches — I think it’s there,” Browne said. “We’ve shown these past few weeks under Helton that we can play with anyone, and it’s just a matter of not losing focus and staying the course.”The coaching staff took notice of Browne’s dedication and work ethic last season, awarding him the Lifter of the Year Award.“That was awesome,” Browne said. “That’s probably what I’m most proud of since I got to USC just because it was nice having the coaches see the work you put in, especially when things may not have gone my way early on. One thing I’ve always hung my hat on is work ethic and showing up each and everyday and doing what I need to do so getting that award was awesome.”Browne’s work ethic isn’t exclusive to football, however. He is completing his final semester of undergraduate study, and will graduate in December with a degree in communication with a minor in entrepreneurship. He plans to attend graduate school over the next two years and pursue an MBA. In fact, academics played a strong role in anchoring the quarterback to USC even after he learned he’d be spending two years as a back-up.“I knew this scenario was a possibility when I signed here, but all in all, it’s been awesome,” Browne said. “School has been great, I have a great group of friends and a great group of teammates so [transferring] never was in consideration.”Though the season is winding down, it’s only the beginning for Browne. His days of looking on from the sidelines are coming to a close, and come next season, he’ll be the one calling the plays for the Trojans.“I wouldn’t say I’m afraid or anxious or worried but the expectations are sky high,” Browne said. “I think that’s something you get up for and you’re excited about but it’s just different being the back-up guy to suddenly you’re in the spotlight. You’re on a national stage right from the get-go, which is awesome and that’s why you come here.”last_img