Phil Scherer | Legacy Managing Editor
September 1, 2015; 12:00 p.m.
As recruiting season wound down in late January, head football coach Patrick Ross prepared to enter the coming season with sophomore Graham Lindman as the likely starting quarterback. He had played frequently during his freshman season with mixed results, and was seen as having the fast track to the starting job, with redshirt freshman Mason Bendigo seen as his likely back up.
These plans were put on hold, however, when an intriguing name came across Ross’ desk.
The name was Jesse Scroggins. Scroggins, a 2010 four-star recruit out of Lakewood, California, began his college career at the University of Southern California.
He ranked as the fifth best quarterback recruit in the nation according to the recruiting site Rivals.com, ahead of future college stars Blake Bell of Oklahoma, Devin Gardner of Michigan and James Franklin of Missouri.
After opting to redshirt and sit out the 2010 season to protect his eligibility and mature both physically and emotionally, Scroggins landed on USC’s roster for the 2011 season, but only made it onto the field for the final snap in a game against the University of Washington.
Following the 2011 season, in an effort to comply with NCAA regulations regarding the number of scholarships USC could hand out, Scroggins was put in a precarious position as the third or fourth quarterback on the roster. That, combined with a persistent foot injury, led him to transfer to junior college El Camino for the 2012 season.
After completing a season as the quarterback for the Warriors, Scroggins transferred back to the Division I level with the University of Arizona, where he sat on the bench for the 2013 season before seeing sporadic game action in 2014, including his collegiate highlight to this point, a 69-yard touchdown pass in last year’s Pac-12 championship game against the University of Oregon.
He graduated from Arizona with a degree in psychology following the 2014 season, and made the decision to relocate to Lindenwood for graduate school. According to Scroggins, he had a friend in California who had attended the university and highly recommended it. Scroggins felt it would be a good fit, and the pieces fell into place.
Originally, Scroggins intended to play baseball for LU, a sport he played throughout his childhood and high school years. That seemed like a done deal until the NCAA ruled he had one season of collegiate eligibility remaining, and could choose between football and baseball.
“It was an obvious choice to play football once I knew I had the choice,” Scroggins said. “I haven’t played baseball in three years. It was a choice of playing something I’ve continued to play or something I’m kind of rusty at and just take a chance.”
Ross calls recruiting Scroggins one of the most unique processes he has been a part of. Once he learned Scroggins was interested in joining the team, Ross began to do his research to learn if he would be a good fit for the program.
“The first thing we did was get ahold of the coaches we know at USC and the people from the Southern California area that we know that would know him,” Ross said. “He just had a ton of great reviews, and people thought highly of him from an athletic standpoint and from a character standpoint.”
Initially, there were concerns about the lack of playing time Scroggins has seen since leaving Lakewood High School, but Ross believes that it won’t be an issue as he joins his fourth collegiate program.
“As a quarterback, he hasn’t played much, but that’s not unheard of, especially at the Division I level, because you’ve only got one of them on the field, and you don’t rotate,” Ross said. “If there’s a guy just a tiny bit better than you, then you’re not going to play very much.”
LU offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach Matt Karleskint shares a similar view on Scroggins, due to the level of competition he has been around for the last few seasons.
“Jesse has been exposed to such a high level of football that he is mentally and physically sharp,” Karleskint said.
He added that Scroggins is a special talent, the type of dual-threat player that only rarely comes to a team.
With Scroggins able to practice with the team beginning in the spring semester last school year, the coaches got an extended look at what they had in their new quarterback, and were able to see how it would affect their younger players