USC's Cody Kessler, Steve Sarkisian pick up where they left off
LOS ANGELES – Reunited and it feels so good.
Steve Sarkisian has yet to coach a game as head coach of USC, but he is already quite familiar with his starting quarterback, Cody Kessler. One of the top QB prospects in the nation in the class of 2011, Kessler was coveted by Sarkisian while he was at Washington, but the Bakersfield native end up staying in California and signed with USC after a heated recruiting battle between Sarkisian and then-USC coach Lane Kiffin.
Kessler and Sarkisian both talked about their reunion Wednesday at Pac-12 Football Media Day.
“I recruited Cody really hard coming out of high school. I thought I was getting him, quite honestly,” Sarkisian said.
Kessler agreed that Sarkisian was close to landing his signature back in 2011 and pointed to his new head coach and his genuine personality being the reason that he almost headed north for college.
“My final two schools were actually Washington and USC, and the main reason for that is that guy over there (Sarkisian). He’s a great guy. He is going to tell you how it is and is a man of his word,” Kessler said.
Now that Kessler and Sarkisian are together at USC, Sarkisian could not be more excited to get to coach the junior who emerged as USC’s full-time starter late in 2013.
“Cody’s a great player. He’s ultra-competitive. He has great leadership. He’s got extremely quick hands, which in our offense is critical for the quarterback’s success. He throws an accurate ball, and he’s got a year of experience under his belt of being the starting quarterback, which is always very helpful,” Sarkisian said.
The feeling of respect is clearly mutual, as Kessler expressed confidence numerous times when asked about his feelings about Sarkisian being his new head coach.
“He’s a great coach. He has been here before and coached great quarterbacks. He knows what it takes to win here," Kessler said.
When talking about their reunion, Kessler reflected on greeting Sarkisian for the first time since the coach's hiring.
“It’s funny, he walked up and I saw him and shook hands and he said something like, ‘I finally got you now,’” Kessler said.
Officially reunited, it looks like Kessler and Sarkisian are getting along just as well as they did back when Kessler was a high school recruit.
“We picked up right where we left off,” Kessler said.