Quarterback Jesse Scroggins confirmed the reports and speculation that had circled around his recruiting for weeks: He’s committed to Southern California.
Scroggins’ announcement went public on ESPN on Thursday afternoon. The statement was taped at the Elite 11 football camp on Tuesday.
“Basically, the decision came down to, I’m going to USC,” the 6-foot-3, 200-pounder said on College Football Live.
UT was thought to be in the lead earlier this summer until Scroggins won a skills competition at a USC camp that earned him a scholarship offer from the Trojans.
Florida was also in the hunt but long thought to be trailing UT and USC.
“It came down to three colleges mainly — Florida, Tennessee and USC,” the star quarterback from Lakewood High (Calif.) School said. “The things about Florida, I like the offense. (It’s) basically based on my high school. It’s Florida and it’s a beautiful place.”
As for UT, Scroggins said his mother’s family, which resides in Memphis, was a factor.
“It’s my mother’s home state,” Scroggins said. “That was a plus for me. 100,000 fans (in Neyland Stadium), that’s a great thing.”
USC, however, held the strongest family tie. Lakewood is about a 20-minute drive from USC’s campus.
“It’s close to my home, where I live,” Scroggins said. “That’s in my backyard.”
Scroggins is the latest of a handful of quarterbacks to spurn the Vols’ advances.
Chase Rettig from Sierra Madre, Calif., committed to Boston College. Jake Heaps from Sammamish, Wash., committed to BYU. Andrew Hendrix from Cincinnati committed to Notre Dame. Blake Bell from Wichita, Kan., committed to Oklahoma. Memphis’ Barry Brunetti committed to West Virginia.
There doesn’t appear to be another high school quarterback who has UT’s interest. That means the Vols will likely go the junior college route if a high school prospect doesn’t emerge this season.
UT has likely already secured Nick Lamaison from Walnut Creek Community College in California. There have been several reports to support that connection; but Lamaison has declined to comment, likely to avoid scaring other prospects off.
If Lamaison is indeed signed, he will enroll at UT in August and be eligible to play this season. UT has only two scholarship quarterback on its roster: senior Jonathan Crompton and junior Nick Stephens.
Other junior college possibilities include Cam Newton from Blinn Community College in Brenham, Texas, and Matt Sims from El Camino Community College in Torrance, Calif. They wouldn’t be able to join UT until the 2010 season.