Max Browne spent four years at USC constantly competing for the starting quarterback job, with mixed results at best. The big-armed 21-year-old will get one last shot 2,500 miles away.
Sure, it's not quite the way Browne expected his college career to go. Yet standing inside the Pittsburgh complex on Friday wearing a blue polo shirt — a decided departure from USC's cardinal and gold — Browne was hardly complaining. He'll spend the next year working on his master's degree in customer insights and trying to win with Coach Pat Narduzzi and the Panthers.
“I know I can play at a high level,” Browne said. “I know if I can do and do that here, I'll be just fine.”
Something that never quite happened with the Trojans. He spent two seasons backing up Cody Kessler then finally earned the shot he'd waited for when he rose to the top of the depth chart for the Trojans. His stay didn't last long.
Facing a brutal stretch that included an opener against No. 1 Alabama and a visit to Stanford, Browne's grasp on the starting gig lasted all of three games before Coach Clay Helton gave the ball to redshirt freshman Sam Darnold, last seen rallying the Trojans past Penn State in the Rose Bowl at the same time Browne was headed across the country to start the next chapter of his life.
“It was a tough first three games,” said Browne, who completed 58 of 93 passes for 507 yards with two touchdowns and two interceptions in 2016. “Played some great opponents. But that's the product of SC in general. You've always got someone behind you. Went out there, did what I felt I could. Things didn't work out. It is what it is. Happy to be here.”
Browne already has one fan in the city: Pittsburgh Steelers tight end Xavier Grimble. The two were at USC together in 2013 and they reunited during Browne's visit to the city during the fall.
“He's got good pocket presence,” Grimble said. “He can sit in the pocket and make the big throw.”
Florida defensive tackle Caleb Brantley is leaving school early and entering the NFL draft, joining Gator cornerback Jalen Tabor, cornerback Quincy Wilson, linebacker Alex Anzalone and offensive tackle David Sharpe in forgoing their final year of college eligibility. … Florida is sticking with Randy Shannon as its defensive play-caller. Shannon was promoted to defensive coordinator, assuming the role he held for the Gators' 30-3 victory against 21st-ranked Iowa in the Outback Bowl. Shannon previously coached linebackers the last two seasons in Gainesville. ...
Former Florida quarterback Treon Harris, who left the program after he was suspended a third time for violating the university’s code of conduct, plans to resume his career at Football Championship Subdivision program Tennessee State. Harris has two seasons of eligibility remaining. … North Carolina tailback Elijah Hood has changed his mind and will enter the NFL draft instead of returning for his senior season. Hood announced he would return before the team’s Sun Bowl loss to Stanford. But in a statement released by the school, Hood said he made the “difficult” reversal after gathering additional information and consulting with his family. …
Iowa offensive coordinator Greg Davis announced his retirement, ending a coaching career that spanned more than four decades. Davis spent the past five seasons running Iowa's offense. Prior to his stint in Iowa City, Davis was the offensive coordinator at Texas from 1998-2010 and helped the Longhorns win a national title in the 2005 season.