Pete Carroll created a stir last season when he tabbed a true freshman to start at quarterback for USC.
New Coach Lane Kiffin might have topped his mentor Thursday, offering a scholarship to a 13-year-old quarterback -- and receiving a commitment in return.
David Sills is only a seventh-grader, but he said in a phone interview from Delaware, “It’s always been my dream to go to USC.”
Kiffin could not be reached for comment.
College coaches are targeting athletes at younger ages, but Sills is believed to be among the youngest to receive a scholarship offer from a major-college football program.
“It just happened out of nowhere,” said Sills, who is not scheduled to graduate from high school until 2015.
Actually, the offer came about by way of Steve Clarkson, a private quarterbacks coach who tutors Sills and also has coached Matt Leinart, Jimmy Clausen and Matt Barkley, among others.
Clarkson said he phoned Kiffin on Thursday to inform him that one of his pupils, Santa Ana Mater Dei quarterback Max Wittek, had received a scholarship offer from Florida.
“While we were talking, I said, ‘I’m going to give you the scoop on a kid,’ ” Clarkson said.
Clarkson told Kiffin that the 6-foot, 145-pound Sills might be better than Clausen or Barkley, who started 12 games for USC in 2009. Then he instructed Kiffin to watch a video of Sills on his website.
“He calls back . . . after going through all the NCAA stuff, and says, ‘I’m prepared to offer this a kid a scholarship right now. Will he commit?’ ” Clarkson said.
Clarkson told Kiffin that Sills had always been a Trojans fan and had met Carroll.
Kiffin, according to Clarkson, then said: “I can’t call. Can you give the kid my number and have him call me?”
Clarkson gave the number to Sills’ father. A few minutes later, the younger Sills was on the line with the 34-year-old coach.
“It was cool, but I was so nervous when I was talking to him,” Sills said.
Leinart was Sills’ favorite Trojans quarterback. He also enjoys watching Barkley and is looking forward to possibly attending a spring football camp at USC.
His father, David IV, called the events of the day “kind of a whirlwind,” adding, “It was surprisingly bizarre, but in a nice kind of way.”