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Former USC quarterback signs with Arizona, ‘hungry to prove himself’

Jesse Scroggins

Jesse Scroggins throws a pass during a 2011 spring practice at USC. Photo by Kirby Lee/Image of Sport-USA TODAY Sports

Let the battle to replace Matt Scott begin.

Former USC quarterback Jesse Scroggins, who committed to the Arizona Wildcats more than two weeks ago, signed his letter-of-intent Wednesday, the first day a mid-year transfer is allowed to make it official with his new school.

Scroggins spent two seasons at USC before transferring to El Camino Junior College in Torrance, Calif., last summer.

“He’s a talented guy,” Arizona coach Rich Rodriguez told TucsonCitizen.com. “He’s probably a little hungry to go out and prove himself. We’re trying to create competition at every position, and he’ll certainly bring that.”

Scroggins (6-3, 210) has been noted as having a huge arm, but El Camino coach John Featherstone added that his athleticism will also help him translate well to Rodriguez’s read-option offense.

“When he is healthy he can fly with the ball in his hands,” Featherstone told WildcatSportsReport.com, one of our TucsonCitizen.com partners.

“He’s a natural runner with a great arm that can throw with accuracy when he gets good protection in the pocket.”

Scroggins ran into injury and academic trouble at USC, falling behind other young quarterbacks, before deciding to spend this season at El Camino. While trying to shake off the rust in junior college, he failed to post impressive numbers, bothered early by a knee injury and then knocked out later in the season by a shoulder injury.

He suffered the latter injury against Riverside during his best performance — 16 of 25 for 295 yards and three touchdowns.

For the season, Scroggins completed 79 of 172 passes for 1,148 yards, with eight touchdowns and five interceptions.

“I think he can make all the throws,” Rodriguez said. “And his arm is going to be stronger now than when he was out of high school, and his arm strength was good back then.”

Scroggins redshirted at USC in 2010 and played one snap in 2011. He will have two years of eligibility remaining at Arizona.

Scroggins was rated the fifth-best pro-style passer in the 2010 class by Rivals.com. As a senior at Lakewood (Calif.) High, he completed 163 of 258 passes for 2,395 yards, with 35 touchdowns and five interceptions.

Wrote Rivals.com at the time: “He is very mobile for a pro-style quarterback and can buy the extra time in the pocket to extend plays as defenses break down. He also has serious zip and accuracy on his intermediate passes.”

Rodriguez said he was looking to add two quarterbacks to this class, and he will do so when touted high school senior Anu Solomon, from Las Vegas Bishop Gorman High School signs in February. Solomon made the biggest jump of any player in Rivals.com’ re-ranking of recruits after the season. Solomon will arrive at Arizona during the summer.

Rodriguez said the quarterback competition is wide open and he’s not concerned at all about picking a starter by the end of spring ball.

“There will only be hand-wringing if we don’t think we have two or three we think can play well enough to win,” Rodriguez said.

As of now, Arizona will have six quarterbacks on the roster in the spring:

–Senior B.J. Denker, this season’s backup to Scott. Denker started one game, against Colorado.


–Sophomore Nick Isham, a walk-on who transferred to Arizona this summer after starting seven games as a true freshman at Louisiana Tech.

–Redshirt freshmen Javelle Allen and Josh Kern. (Allen was ahead of Kern this season, ready to go as an emergency quarterback)

–Walk-on redshirt freshman Jack Nykaza.

Rodriguez told TucsonCitizen.com he would like to keep Richard Morrison ready at quarterback, too, although the senior-to-be is likely to move back close to full time as a slot receiver.

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