Watchful eyes await Barkley finale
In a game of numbers, Matt Barkley has two years of eligibility remaining. One will be used this fall, as he takes his place behind center for the third consecutive season as the Trojans starting quarterback. Barring injury, he will easily surpass John David Booty to move into fifth among the school’s all time leaders in passing yards. And if he manages to reach the 3000 yard plateau, he leaps into the third position, with Matt Leinart clearly within sight.—He won’t catch him.
The 2011 season will begin with the name Barkley appearing on Heisman and O’Brien watch lists. It will end with the name visible on NFL big boards. And without psychic ability or a fortune telling deck, it is predictable that this season will be his last.
Gil Brandt of NFL.com has rated Matt Barkley second among draft eligible players for 2012, trailing only Stanford’s Andrew Luck. The rank becomes another stitch in the pattern, laid beside the opinion of similar analysts also listing the quarterback in their early top-10. To retain this value throughout the course of the season is to bid him farewell, unless there is a hunger for something greater than the NFL and its reward.
Of the 21st century slingers, only Mark Sanchez left eligibility on the table. But of all quarterbacks in the history of USC, Barkley was the only true freshman to ever open a season as the starter. That puts him ahead of the curve, starting more games (24) in his first two seasons than Sanchez (16), Booty (23), and Cassel (0) in their Trojan careers.
At this time a year ago, Arkansas’ Ryan Mallet was a first-round projection, and Cam Newton was nowhere to be seen. Obviously where you start isn’t always where you finish, as stock will rise and fall in the days between now and then. But with a Palmer-esque skill set and the character of Tebow, it is reasonable to believe Barkley’s value will hold steady throughout the weeks of the upcoming campaign.
In a final season plagued with inconsistency, Jake Locker managed to retain top-10 value on potential alone. Barkley appears as an even greater prospect, entering his third season of operation in an Pro modeled offense. He is NFL ready, whereas the Washington quarterback, though selected eighth overall in April’s draft, still remains to be groomed.
Brandt also taps into a bloodline, listing another Trojan, Matt Kalil, 12th on his list of 2012 draft eligible. Matt follows in the footsteps of older brother Ryan, who was a second-round pick for the Panthers in 2007 and two-time Pro Bowl selection.
The left tackle and his quarterback are the only Trojans appearing among the top-100 prospects. Both will enter 2011 as juniors, and if big boards go without change, both will forgo future Saturdays for Sunday’s greener pastures.
In a game of numbers, Matt Barkley would become the fourth USC quarterback selected in the first-round of the NFL draft. And if the admiration for Andrew Luck also continues to be held, it’s possible that Barkley could become the first Trojan quarterback to accomplish the feat without receiving first-team honors in conference.