USC quarterback Matt Barkley just announced at a 1 PM PST news conference that he will be returning to play for the Trojans in 2012 and will not enter the 2012 NFL Draft. Barkley felt that he was ready for the NFL but stated that he had “unfinished business” at USC. The USC marching band was on hand at the announcement so that took away some of the suspense leading up to his announcement.
This is great news for a top-flight program that has had to endure a two-year bowl ban and the loss of 30 scholarships over three years. But even with that USC finished with only two losses in 2011 under Lane Kiffin and destroyed UCLA 50-0 in its last game of the season, leading to the resignation of Rick Neuheisel and the hiring of Jim Mora.
Barkley posted some huge numbers this season and had NFL scouts drooling in what was shaping up to be an epic year for quarterbacks in the NFL Draft. He completed 308 of 446 passes for 3,528 yards, 39 touchdowns vs 7 interceptions and with a completion percentage of 69%. Barkley worked in a pro-style offense at USC which made him even more attractive to many scouts.
Without Barkley in the draft, Robert Griffin III will get even more buzz as the likely #2 quarterback taken after Andrew Luck. Many teams like the Miami Dolphins, the Washington Redskins and the Cleveland Browns might be looking hard at a quarterback in the first round so it will be interesting to see how Griffin does at the combine and how tall he measures out at (he’s listed at 6′ 2″). There are other prospects as well like Landry Jones, but with Barkley there seemed to be real debate developing over whether teams would prefer him or Griffin after Luck.
Barkley enters to 2012 season at USC as one of the clear favorites for the Heisman Trophy, so this golden boy will be all the rage next year. USC has 17 starters coming back for next season so the Trojans will be in the mix for the Pac-12 championship. Also, Barkley can purchase up to $5 million in insurance under the NCAA’s Exceptional Student-Athlete Disability program.
College football needed some good news in an otherwise lame 2011 calendar year of bad news, so this is an early holiday gift for fans.