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USC backup quarterback Matt Fink decides against playing a sixth season

USC quarterback Matt Fink looks to pass against Washington on Sept. 28, 2019, in Seattle.
USC quarterback Matt Fink has decided not to return to the Trojans for his sixth season of eligibility,
(Elaine Thompson / Associated Press)

Matt Fink, the backup quarterback who came off the bench to pilot one of the Trojans’ most impressive wins in recent memory, plans to move on from USC, a person familiar with the decision confirmed to The Times.

A redshirt senior last year, Fink could’ve returned for a sixth season of eligibility in 2021 with all athletes granted an additional year by the NCAA because of the pandemic.

Instead, after five seasons and one start under center at USC, Fink will pursue other opportunities after earning his master’s degree from USC this spring. Fink’s plans were first reported by TrojanSports.com.

The door is still open for Fink to return to USC’s football roster, if he chooses, a person close to the program confirmed. But the quarterback room will be significantly more crowded, as Trojans will welcome two of the nation’s top young passers in Jaxson Dart and Miller Moss as early enrollees this spring and welcome back Mo Hasan, the Vanderbilt transfer who underwent surgery last November for compartment syndrome.

USC’s 2021 football schedule provides reasons for hope that the Trojans could again be serious contenders for a Pac-12 championship.

Where Fink would’ve fit in that picture was unclear ahead of next month’s spring session. Kedon Slovis, coming off a season in which the sophomore was named the Pac-12’s top passer, is as entrenched as any starting quarterback in the league. Dart and Moss are the future for USC at the position.

Fink threw just one pass over the Trojans’ six-game season in 2020. It was completed for a loss of five yards. In 2019, however, Fink who provided the most extraordinary moments of an otherwise disappointing season when he came off the bench against a top-10 Utah team and led USC to an unlikely 30-23 victory.

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Fink had opened the season as the Trojans’ third-string quarterback. Then, JT Daniels injured his knee against Fresno State, and Slovis suffered a concussion early in the game against Utah. That left Fink, who delivered an unforgettable 351-yard, three-touchdown performance.

Fink started the next week in Slovis’ place, but wasn’t able to conjure the same magic, losing to Washington. He played in eight games in 2019, completing 66% of his passes for 648 yards and four touchdowns with five interceptions.

After ranking 64th nationally in recruiting last year, USC is No. 8 this year, adding Santa Ana Mater Dei’s Raesjon Davis, a four-star prospect, on Wednesday.

Fink nearly left USC in the spring before the 2019 season. After losing the quarterback competition in 2018 to Daniels, Fink entered the NCAA transfer portal and seemed set on transferring to Illinois. By fall, though, he had a change of heart and returned to USC.

“In a world where everybody goes different places, this one stayed for his family, waiting for his moment, waiting for his memory,” Helton said after USC’s win that night over Utah, “and what a memory it was tonight.”


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