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Thursday, January 7, 2010
The Aaron Corp story

By Pedro Moura

With Aaron Corp officially out at USC and headed to Richmond of the Football Championship Subdivision, we thought it would be pertinent to take a look back at Corp’s short-lived career with the Trojans.

Here we go.

Corp first enrolled at USC in the class of 2007, redshirting behind senior John David Booty and redshirt freshman Mark Sanchez.

That 2007 team went 11-2. Sanchez started two games in place of an injured Booty, setting himself up to beat out Corp for the starting job in spring practice in 2008. Sanchez then went 12-1 as a starter.

To USC coach Pete Carroll's admitted displeasure, Sanchez declared for the draft in January, leaving an open spot at the quarterback spot that had no clear

Fast-forward to the next spring.

Near the end of spring practice, Pete Carroll and new quarterbacks coach Jeremy Bates officially named Corp as the starter, citing an ability to "take the team down the field and not turn the ball over."

It wasn’t a surprise at the time, with Corp solidly outperforming both freshman Matt Barkley and redshirt junior Mitch Mustain in drills and team play.

What was a surprise was what followed.

Corp cracked his fibula on the first day of fall camp. Carroll immediately declared the spot an open competition.

The frail 6-foot-4, 195-pounder fought his way back in time to be considered to make the opening day start against San Jose State, but Barkley got the start, the USC staff explained, because Corp wasn’t yet fully healed.

Barkley then became the hero with an impressive debut at the Coliseum and an even more impressive comeback win at the Horseshoe, but a bone bruise in his throwing shoulder held him out of the next contest.

That meant Corp would start his first college game at Washington in a game -- and a performance -- that can be described in no other way than thoroughly disastrous.

From there, Barkley took over, Corp's confidence was shot and what was announced today was essentially decided. Corp wouldn't start at USC again.

When it comes down to it, I think one of the primary reasons the coaching staff soured on Corp was the very reason they grew enamored with him at first: he was always very even-keeled.

The quiet redshirt sophomore has always been liked by teammates, coaches and the like.

That was a positive quality back in April, when Corp made significantly fewer bad decisions than Barkley and showed significant potential to improve.

But in August, when his throws hadn’t gotten any better and the eager-to-learn freshman Barkley was improving daily, Carroll fell in love with the idea of taking a risk.

He knew what he would get in Corp. He didn't know what he would get in Barkley, but he saw an inherent passion for the game and the position in Barkley that he didn't always see in Corp, who sometimes appears content to stay quiet and out of the way.

Well, what does USC do now?

Carroll needs to get comfortable with the idea of having Mustain as his No. 2 QB, which he hasn’t really been able to do through two seasons. Mustain must take some starter snaps and be given at least a token chance to unseat Barkley.

Carroll also needs to get comfortable with limiting the reps of incoming freshman Jesse Scroggins and allowing him to develop over time.

Essentially USC is only losing a third-string quarterback -- but one with a long story.