Quarterback Matt Barkley staying at USC for senior yearDecember 23, 2011 11:22 AM by GT Staff
Last year Andrew Luck chose a return to Stanford rather than the big bucks of the NFL. Now Matt Barkley has done the same.
The Southern California quarterback believed he was prepared to play in the NFL and the draft prognosticators agreed with him. But, in a Thursday news conference in Los Angeles, Barkley said he wasn’t ready to leave.
Barkley had skillfully guided the program through two years of NCAA sanctions, putting up big numbers to add his name to the list of great Trojans quarterbacks. With USC coming off probation, he said there is some unfinished business.
Setting off a round of cheers at USC’s Heritage Hall, Barkley announced he will return for his senior season. At 6-foot-2, 220 pounds and with a game that matured over three years, Barkley was projected as a high first-round pick in the NFL draft, an enticement that had lured his predecessor, Mark Sanchez, after his junior season.
Instead of following Sanchez’s footsteps, Barkley took the route of former USC quarterback Matt Leinart and Luck.
Leinart returned to USC after winning the Heisman Trophy and a national championship, and led the Trojans to the 2005 BCS title game, where they lost toTexas.
Luck came back this season after being the Heisman runner-up last year and took the Cardinal to the Fiesta Bowl while finishing second to Baylor’s Robert Griffin III in this year’s Heisman voting.
Like those two, Barkley felt as though he still had goals he wanted to accomplish after leading the Trojans to a 10-2 record and a No. 5 ranking in The Associated Press poll.
The NFC East has been largely unpredictable the past three seasons, with the team carrying the longest division odds at midsummer finishing first. In 2012 it was Washington at 10 to 1, in 2013 Philadelphia at 5-1 and last year Dallas at 4-1.