Will Kedon Slovis become the next great USC quarterback?
Kedon Slovis wasn't even supposed to play last year. Matter of fact, Slovis wasn't expected to be a household name until J.T. Daniels was gone. Daniels went down with an injury, thrusting Slovis into the starting role as a freshman, and the rest is history. A promising freshman campaign has Trojans fans thinking championship in 2020, but could also see their super sophomore make some Heisman noise. Is Kedon Slovis the next great Trojans quarterback? He has the tools to do it, and the weapons around him to get him there.
Let's start with the 2020 season. Quarterbacks who started as freshmen have produced mixed results so far, making a prediction of Slovis' performance up in the air. North Carolina's Sam Howell has been up and down, mostly thanks to an inconsistent offensive line, even with a loaded group of skill players. Auburn's Bo Nix has struggled even with Seth Williams as a target. UCF's Dillon Gabriel is on record pace as a passer. Oklahoma State's Spencer Sanders was hurt for a few games, but has shown some promise among his inconsistencies. So where will Slovis fit in this group? Like most of them, he has talent around him, especially at receiver, and that will be the reason both the Trojans and Slovis compete for a Pac-12 title.
Not many teams have the NFL potential like the Trojans. Even with Michael Pittman Jr. playing for the Indianapolis Colts now, USC's receivers will be among the best in college football. Tyler Vaughns has prepared for this moment his entire life, which I talked about in my 2020 College Football Preview. Amon-Ra St. Brown is a former five star who comes from an athletic family, and a future NFL draft pick. Drake London's a future star. All three combined for 2,521 yards and 17 touchdowns last year, and now have more opportunities to catch passes from Slovis.
If you look at the history of USC quarterbacks, there are a ton of notable names on the list. Guys like Matt Leinart and Carson Palmer are legends, but there are many more names that may college football fans recognize. Slovis is trying to join that club, but he's not going to be worried about the spotlight, even in Los Angeles. Coming from Desert Mountain in Scottsdale, Arizona, Slovis is used to big names surrounding him and the pressure of playing quarterback. Former Super Bowl champion Kurt Warner groomed Slovis to be the quarterback he is now, which is the biggest reason why the sophomore will succeed. His focus is on the process of being great as a passer, and not on the accolades and attention that comes with it.
If you're looking for a name that NFL scouts will love after this year, Kedon Slovis is your guy. He already has the tools that scouts love as a passer, and two more years of experience will only elevate his game. Last year he showed promise, but he needs the years of experience to get rid of the bad games. Agaisnt BYU and Oregon, Slovis threw a combined six interceptions and was held under 300 yards passing. Whenever he surpassed that mark, USC went 5-0. It's a small sample size, but so far it's an indication of the team's success.
Slovis already has four, 400-yard passing games to his name, including one 515-yard performance against UCLA. He might be young, but he's already proven that he's a star in the making. If you're not on the hype train now, you might want to get on board, because signs indicate that he's about to take off. USC benefits from that too, obviously.
Over the last 10 years, Oregon, Washington and Stanford have dominated the conference, winning nine of the last ten championships. The Trojans have just one Pac-12 championship this decade along with one Rose Bowl appearance. With Stanford struggling and Washington ushering in a new head coach, Oregon remains the Trojans top competition for the title. It's just on Slovis and the offense to be great and not have any letdowns.
USC and Slovis face another sophomore quarterback this weekend, one that's already received plenty of NFL attention. Jayden Daniels had an exciting freshman season with Arizona State, and scouts have already been breaking down film on him for a while now. This weekend's matchup gives both quarterbacks a chance to put on a show, and prove to scouts which one is better. If USC wants to compete for a conference championship, the Sun Devils are their biggest divisional obstacle. The other Pac-12 South competitors don't present any immediate danger, making this weekend's contest even more important.
The national media believes the Pac-12's College Football Playoff hopes lie in Eugene, Oregon with the Ducks, but Slovis and the Trojans will have a say in that. They need to get off to a good start, especially against their divisional foe. It might be tough with a limited schedule for the Trojans to get in, but they're already being doubted. Slovis and the offense can play a big role in changing that perception, and put USC back in control of the conference like they once were years ago. It seems inevitable that Slovis succeeds, and how high he rises will determine how much of a legend he is among an elite group. Maybe even rising all the way to the top.