Max Browne, the 19-year-old sophomore quarterback for USC, was considered the top quarterback in his high school class. He set all the records while playing for Sammamish, Wash.’s Skyline High School, and committed to Lane Kiffin at USC following his junior year (you can read more about Browne’s high school career here).
Browne decided to redshirt his freshman year in Los Angeles and the hope was that sitting back and learning would give him the leg up for the starting gig the following season. That did not happen and Browne will now be starting his sophomore years as the Trojan’s No. 2 QB, behind Cody Kessler. How did he react to that decision, made by new USC coach Steve Sarkisian ? And what’s life been like for Browne at USC? We spoke to him about all that, and more. Check it out below.
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TDdaily: So, how would you describe your first season at USC?
Max Browne: A big learning experience, and with more than just quarterback things—with life in general. We had four head coaches last year if you count all the interim ones, it was a roller coaster and definitely an interesting first four weeks of the season.
TD: That lead to any regrets over choosing USC?
MB: Some of the best recruiting advice I got was to commit to a school, not a coach. If football goes south, you want to still be able to enjoy where you are, and get something out of it. So no, I love it here.
TD: Do you have any regrets from last year?
MB: I wish things would have come to me faster and that I would have picked a lot of the football stuff up quicker.
TD: What was the biggest adjustment for you?
MB: I would say having everything be new. In high school I was very comfortable with everything and it’s an adjustment getting away from that. Everything is new when you get to college—new teammates, new system, new coaches, you gotta earn your stripes again. And for me, not being from Southern California, it was a whole new area, too, and all of that ties together.
TD: Did you have any embarrassing freshman moments?
MB: Yes, for sure. In fall camp, we do a rookie show and I did the Napoleon Dynamite dance up there and had the outfit and all of that.
Back in the day I actually used to have a blonde afro like that.
TD: What kind of music do you guys usually listen to in the locker room?
MB: Usually some rap, whatever the LA kids are listening to, but today we actually had country in there. Not really sure how that happened.
TD: You redshirted last year and didn’t win the QB competition this year. When you heard that you were going to starting the season on the bench, behind Cody Kessler, what was your reaction?
MB: My reaction was…to use it as fuel. I mean the decision is the decision and I knew this was a possibility. All I can do now, and it’s a cliche but it’s true, is to look at the positives and use this as an opportunity to really critique my game, and to get better.
TD: So, in your opinion, Max Browne didn’t win the starting job because…
MB: I would say my lack of game experience compared to the guy ahead of me made him a more consistent option.
TD: What have you been doing to get better?
MB: There’s all the bigger, stronger, faster stuff, but I’ve also been working with a QB coach a lot, working on my foot work and I’ve been monitoring my diet a lot more.
TD: That part can’t be fun.
MB: It amazes me how much Chow Mein, General Tso’s, hot dogs, Pizza and Taco Time burritos I used to eat.
TD: USC gets all kind of celebs to come through. You get to meet anyone cool?
MB: Dr. Dre came and talked to use once. Ray Lewis another time—that was crazy. If you could hear anyone speak to you, Ray Lewis is probably No. 1 on my list.
TD: There are ton of different NCAA lawsuits taking place now. Do you and your teammates ever discuss them?
MB: Yeah, we talk about it. Most people have the generic response of we should get more money. My response is always, Yeah, OK, I understand that, but if we’re getting more money that means the money isn’t going someplace else. But I do feel like we should get more money.
I always give the following example: One of my teammates, a big-name guy, he’s on a huge billboard, for USC football, that’s around here, and yet he’s still getting the same amount that the rest of us are. So the school’s using his name and face to kind of market itself and sometimes at the end of the month he’s kind of gotta be extra careful with his money. So yeah, I think we should get more money. But I also think it’s a lot easier said than done.
TD: This might be a bit of a loaded question given he didn’t pick you to be the starting QB, but what are your thoughts on your new head coach, Steve Sarkisian?
MB: He’s a very good coach. He knows what he’s talking about, he’s very involved as far as individual drills go, he’s not just having us run through the motions, and he’s very knowledgeable when it comes to the QB position. I think our offense is going to be really explosive this year. He’s got a really good offensive mind, and even though he didn’t tell me what I wanted to hear [with his quarterback choice], he’s still someone that I’ve known for a while and I’m excited to see where we go. He was actually the first college coach to offer me a scholarship—when he was in Washington, I’m from there, the weekend after my freshman year ended he offered me a spot.
TD: Lastly, what are you expecting from the team as a whole this year?
MB: Again, I think our offense is going to be really explosive this year. If you look at every game on our schedule, I think we have the talent to beat anyone.
Yaron Weitzman is the Editor-in-Chief for TDdaily.com. Follow him on Twitter at @YaronWeitzman. Image via USA Today.