USC quarterback Max Wittek will forgo participating in spring practice, graduate at the end of the semester and transfer to another school to play his final two seasons of eligibility, he said Wednesday.
Wittek, a fourth-year junior, will be able to play at another school immediately under NCAA rules that allow players who have graduated to transfer without penalty.
Wittek said he informed Coach Steve Sarkisian of his decision on Wednesday and that Sarkisian was supportive.
“I had talked to Coach a couple of times,” Wittek said. “What it really came down to was a feel for me…. Getting my degree from such a great university will mean a lot, and ultimately, allowing me to play right away with two years to play was the best way to go.”
Wittek graduated early from Santa Ana Mater Dei High and enrolled at USC in January 2011 hoping to succeed Matt Barkley as the starter.
He started in place of the injured Barkley in the 2012 regular-season finale against Notre Dame and played fairly well. But he struggled in the Trojans’ season-ending loss to Georgia Tech in the Sun Bowl, putting the starting job up for grabs.
Last season, Cody Kessler and Wittek shared played time in the first two games, but former coach Lane Kiffin chose Kessler as the starter.
Wittek finished his USC career having completed 50 of 95 passes for 600 yards, with three touchdowns and six interceptions.
Wittek said he had not spoken with other schools but would begin doing so after receiving permission-to-contact paperwork from USC.
“At the very beginning I’ll be open to anything to keep that spectrum open,” he said. “I hope to narrow it down to a few schools I feel comfortable with.”
Wittek’s departure leaves the Trojans with three scholarship quarterbacks: Kessler, redshirt freshman Max Browne and freshman Jalen Greene, who graduated early from Gardena Serra and is attending USC.
Two quarterbacks in the Class of 2015 — Ricky Town of Ventura St. Bonaventure High and David Sills of Eastern Christian Academy in Elkton, Md. -- have made oral commitments to USC.
Wittek said he looked at his USC experience as a “fantastic positive.”
“I’ve learned a lot since I’ve been here,” he said. “I’ve been through a lot and USC has helped me become the man I am today and there is no better place. The Trojan family is amazing.
“My journey has been a little bit different — it didn’t work out with the traditional picture-perfect ending, but I definitely look back with a lot of positive feelings.”