News that was highly expected for USC and its fans this offseason came on Tuesday: Quarterback Kedon Slovis’ tenure as a Trojan has officially come to an end. The rising senior announced via Instagram he’s transferring to the University of Pittsburgh.
Slovis, who has two years of eligibility remaining, was USC’s signal-caller for three seasons. A three-star recruit out of high school, Slovis jumped onto the scene with a wildly successful freshman year following a season-ending injury to then-starter JT Daniels in the 2019 opener.
In that season, Slovis set a USC record for completion percentage (71.9%) along with the NCAA record for completion percentage by a freshman. He also set the record for single-game passing yards by a Trojan with a 515-yard output against UCLA and broke the USC freshman record for passing yards in a season (3,502). The 2019 Pac-12 Freshman of the Year was projected as a future early first-rounder by many NFL Draft analysts following that historic season.
Partially onset by an injury that knocked him out of the 2019 Holiday Bowl and lingered into the offseason, Slovis’ numbers in his pandemic-shortened sophomore year regressed to a 67% completion rate and a 17:7 touchdown-to-interception ratio (from 30:9 the previous year). Still, Slovis threw for over 320 yards per game and led numerous late-game comebacks that carried USC to the Pac-12 Championship Game, where he struggled in a loss to Oregon. He was named to the All-Pac-12 First Team that year.
Slovis entered the 2021 season as the starter but struggled in the team’s first two games. From there, injuries — as well as the corresponding emergence of freshman Jaxson Dart — further complicated USC’s quarterback situation. Slovis exited early in Week 3′s matchup with Washington State but reclaimed sole quarterback duties due to an injury Dart suffered the same game. The two were thrust into a quarterback rotation against Arizona and Arizona State when both were healthy, but neither particularly thrived in that system.
Those would be Slovis’ final two games at USC, as he missed the last three games of the season with a lower leg injury.
“I won’t lie: I thought we would continue that success throughout my career,” Slovis wrote in a Players’ Tribune article titled “Dear USC” of his expectations following his freshman season. “But football is kind of like life — you can’t control everything. Whether it’s injuries, or having to navigate a season with COVID and so many unknowns…. some things you just don’t plan for. And everything didn’t go as I planned during the rest of my time at USC … But that didn’t stop me from giving all that I had to this team over these last three years. That much I promise you.”
Now, instead of declaring for the NFL Draft, Slovis will hope to find both increased stability and improved production at Pitt in an effort to return to the early-draft prospect he once was. He’ll have some big shoes to fill, taking over for Heisman finalist Kenny Pickett, who declared for the NFL Draft last week.
“I’m hoping that, if anything, the hurdles I’ve had to overcome have taught me a lot about how to succeed going forward,” Slovis wrote. “I’m hoping they’ve made me a better quarterback, and a better man. USC will always be a special place to me … To everyone at USC including my coaches, teammates and the entire staff: Thank you for everything. I’m glad I was a Trojan. I’ll always be one.”
Slovis cited the ability to win (No. 13 Pittsburgh went 11-2 and won the ACC Championship this year and now awaits a Peach Bowl matchup with No. 11 Michigan State), Pittsburgh’s returning players, the team’s culture and the prospect of throwing to 2021 Biletnikoff Award winner Jordan Addison as incentives for the decision. At Pitt, Slovis will join his girlfriend Kate McKay, who plays soccer for the Panthers.
“I was so excited when Coach [Pat] Narduzzi called, because I knew that Pitt and this program were the right fit for me to keep developing into the best leader I can be,” Slovis wrote. “I can’t wait to prove myself again on this stage.”
Had Slovis remained at USC, he would’ve had to battle with the high-flying former four-star recruit Dart for playing time in 2022. Now, Slovis figures to have his own starting role at Pitt, and Dart becomes the presumed No. 1 at USC even moreso than he already may have been. Fellow freshman and former four-star Miller Moss, though, barring his own transfer, will push for snaps as well and perhaps challenge Dart for the starting job.