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Norm Chow praises Max Wittek, compares him to Carson Palmer

Coach Chow sees a lot of the former Heisman winner in his starting QB

Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

The sage of where Max Wittek was going to end up for his last season was quite the interesting one.

It starts with the announcement that Wittek was going to transfer from USC to play two more years somewhere else after he had graduated. The team that immediately popped up on the radar was Texas.

"When I visited there, it was one of the most impressive things I've ever seen in my life," he told Fox Sports Tuesday at Mountain West Media Days this week. Texas cooled off their efforts to recruit Wittek when it came to light that he wasn't going to receive his degree from USC, and would only have one year of eligibility left wherever he transferred.

"It ended up being a weird situation with my credits and stuff," Wittek said, saying there were two classes he was missing to fulfill the requirements for a degree.

That's when Coach Norm Chow and Hawaii swooped in and grabbed the former Mater Dei standout in August of 2014. Chow, a former USC assistant coach, already has an impressive resume of quarterbacks that have played under him, including Ty Detmer, Steve Young, Jim McMahon, Phillip Rivers, and Heisman winner Carson Palmer.

"He was our scout team quarterback, and he ripped us every day," Chow said of Wittek. "He made some very ordinary walk-on receivers look pretty good."

He says the 6-foot-4, 240-pound Wittek's arm strength rivals that of Carson Palmer's, who was the No. 1 overall pick in 2003 NFL Draft. "If you had to make a training tape, you'd make it with Carson Palmer. This guy would be second. I'm not kidding you. He has good touch, a quick release and great anticipation. Most young kids don't have that. They'll wait till the guy is wide-ass open. This guy anticipates it."

Chow said Wittek came in an immediately meshed with his new teammates, so much so, he was almost a unanimous choice as a team captain. "We talked about this when he came here, that he had to be the one who integrated himself with his teammates," Chow said. "They weren't gonna come to him, and he did it in a nice fashion."

Wittek played two seasons at Southern Cal, appearing in 13 games and making two starts in his career. He completed 50/95 of his passes for 600 yards, with three touchdowns to six interceptions.

In his first year at UH, Wittek credits Coach Chow for helping refine his game. "It's just a matter of being smart," Wittek said. "Everyone knows I can throw the ball down the field and do this and that, but it's a matter of checking it down when we need to and keep the ball moving forward and keeping it in our hands -- the little things like that. It's more of a philosophy and mindset that he's really worked with me."

Hawaii opens the season September 3rd against Colorado.