Jesse Scroggins is smiling.
Few would find much to smile about after leaving one of the top football programs in NCAA history to attend junior college. Many would view it as a demotion.
But the smile that wasnt present when he was in plushier confines has now reappeared.
He can smile, because, by his own admission, he has some maturing to do and thats OK. He believes hell make tremendous strides in that department over the next six months.
After deciding to leave USC, the former Trojans quarterback will transfer to junior college power, El Camino College.
I really just sat down with my dad and just thought about the future and just thought about all the intangibles of being the quarterback, my years left, what was going on around me, and just thought about everything and decided that I'd transfer, Scroggins said.
Admittedly, he fell into a bad spot academically his first semester of college in the fall of 2010. He says hes bounced back and including last spring at USC, he didnt do too bad the last three semesters.
Scroggins, a redshirt sophomore, needs less than 12 units to receive his AA degree before hopefully transferring back to the Division I level.
"It's a one-and-done deal," said longtime El Camino head coach John Featherstone to the Daily Breeze.
El Caminos prestige at the Division I level under Featherstone was a draw to Scroggins. The Warriors have won two state titles, a national title and perennially a top-five team in Southern California.
That was definitely a big factor and also a factor was that its close, Scroggins said. Its a big time program and they play big time competition and I dont have to go too far.
Scroggins was a top-10 quarterback in the nation coming out of Lakewood High School in 2010 according to Scout.com but didnt see much of the field playing behind Matt Barkley.
After redshirting his freshman season, he suffered a thumb injury in training camp last summer, which required surgery, and forced him to miss the first half of the season. In the process, he was caught and eventually passed by redshirt freshmen Cody Kessler and Max Wittek on the depth chart.
He took one snap, and did not throw a pass in 2011.
He was limited in spring drills because of a hip injury and also forced to miss some practices to focus on academics.
The injuries took their toll, and admittedly affected his production in the classroom. Scroggins says hes healthy now and began working out with his new teammates on Thursday.
Now hes just excited about the chance to play football again.
I'm just ready to move on and play some football, he said. Its been three years.
Its definitely going to be a humbling experience just going from D-1 to JUCO. (There are) players that havent been on the next level. Im trying to get them out there, just as well as Im trying to get myself.