Clay Helton sets date to name Max Browne or Sam Darnold USC’s quarterback

USC quarterbacks Max Browne, left, and Sam Darnold take snaps on the first day of spring practice on March 8.
(Luis Sinco / Los Angeles Times)

If USC’s football season began on Thursday, Coach Clay Helton said, Max Browne would be the starting quarterback.

But USC’s season does not start on Thursday, the first day of Pac-12 Media Days. So USC’s quarterback competition, between Browne and Sam Darnold, will march on to fall camp.

Helton did, however, set a date to make a decision on the quarterbacks. He said he will name a starter after 18 practices, two weeks before the Trojans open their season against Alabama in Arlington, Texas, on Sept. 3.

Otherwise, there were few surprises from USC’s time with the media. Neither quarterback attended — USC brought defensive back Adoree Jackson and offensive tackle Zach Banner. The day served as a formal introduction to the conference for Helton, who was named the full-time coach in late November last season, with two games remaining.


In his opening remarks, Helton continued to emphasize the differences he expects under his coaching staff. Namely: a more workmanlike, more focused football team.

Zach Helfand and Lindsey Thiry discuss when USC will announce a starting quarterback, how a lack of experience will affect the defensive line and the return of Adoree’ Jackson.

“The expectations at USC is championships,” Helton said. “If you don’t like that bar, don’t take the job.”

Jackson said the team is trying to abandon the flashy, celebrity-infused reputation it gained under Pete Carroll.

“We have a mentality to leave Hollywood behind,” said Jackson, who was speaking at the event at the Hollywood & Highland Center, in Hollywood.

Twitter: @zhelfand