In what is beginning to feel like an offseason nightmare for Tennessee, this afternoon on ESPN, Jesse Scroggins committed to the USC Trojans. So much for truth in advertising:
It's a move that we saw coming. After Lane Kiffin explicitly informed everybody that he wouldn't offer Jesse's cousin simply to land the coveted quarterback (a decision I still wholly endorse), things just seemed to cool off between the two. From there, USC played the "let's-make-him-look-really-special" game by hosting a quarterback competition with a scholarship offer as a prize. (Raise your hand if you honestly thought there was any chance somebody else would win.) The Troy ploy worked, along with the ridiculously short drive from home and the recent commitment of high school teammate Dion Bailey. All that, the opportunity to have Sevierville native Jeremy Bates as your position coach, and USC's easy-breezy conference success throughout the last decade were just too much for Jesse to turn down, even despite the deepest quarterback depth chart I have ever seen.
There's no need for sour grapes about this, either. Sure, we'll miss the guy, but he ultimately has to go where he feels he's best suited. Given that his family and all of his friends are in the immediate vicinity of the USC campus, that USC is indeed a good academic school, and that USC still looks capable of placing quarterbacks in the NFL at an annual basis, it's a move that does make a tremendous amount of sense. In short, we may not like it, but you really can't blame the guy. (If you really want to look for silver linings, just remember that Lane Kiffin helped bring this on himself by being so successful at USC in the first place.)
From here, we now turn our eyes to Nick Lamaison to find out if he's still going to commit to UT (which seems very likely). If so, then the gap after Stephens is filled with Rozier and Lamaison - plenty enough to hold UT for the next couple of years. I don't know anything about Rozier's potential, but Lamaison seems to be as solid of a JC prospect as you'll find. Knowing after Tuesday's press conference that Lane believes in a run-first approach, this may be exactly what is needed to make the offense run well.
There are still other possibilities like Brunetti, but quarterback season is drawing late; once the season starts, recruitment of qbs is effectively over. Unless UT proves to be a terrific surprise during the season and gives cause for prospects to change their minds, we'll likely have all of our quarterback answers before the kickoff of the Western Kentucky game.
Congratulations to USC for picking off the guy we wanted in Knoxville. It's not the end of the world, but it would have been really nice to have him nonetheless. The big board will be updated accordingly.