Matt Barkley faced a difficult decision after last season: come back to USC for his senior season or declare for the NFL draft. Barkley ultimately decided to come back to school to lead the Trojans in 2012 as the program comes off probation for the first time since Barkley was declared a starter. Last week, the Trojan signal caller went on the Dan Patrick Show and answered questions on last year’s draft, his decision to come back to school, and his expectations for the 2012 season.
Prior to deciding to return, Barkley made sure to do his homework by going through the entire process of pre-draft scouting, determining whether or not the leap would be worth it. When asked who he had been linked to, Barkley said “maybe Minnesota, maybe Miami, or the Redskins,” as he had heard all those teams listed as potential suitors. No matter which team it was, Barkley was confident it would have been high in the draft. How high? When Patrick pressed what order he thought the quarterbacks would have been taken, the Trojan QB relented that Andrew Luck going first was a foregone conclusion, but the order after that was a little less clear. Would he have gone ahead of Robert Griffin III? “I had confidence in that. I think I could have been,” Barkley said.
But that wasn’t enough to convince Barkley to pass on his senior season. He decided to come back because he has one last chance to do something he hasn’t been able to during his run at USC: play in the postseason. That opportunity made all the difference to Barkley. If the team hadn’t been on probation these last two seasons, the quarterback admits he likely would have left for the NFL, simply because he would have already had that experience. If the program were still on probation, he likely would have been less tempted to come back one more year because there wouldn’t have been any chance to experience the postseason. Having the chance to reach a bowl or win a Pac-12 Championship game for the first time in Barkley’s career was something he just couldn’t pass up.
And Barkley likes the Trojans chances to capitalize, picking his Trojans as the best team in college football (shocker, right?). He says that he loves the team as it’s built right now, and has nothing but confidence in USC’s chances to finish on top. That confidence has helped Barkley return to school without a second thought, attending classes and workouts without regret. With the strong team Lane Kiffin looks to put on the field for the Trojans this season, it’s hard to imagine Barkley not getting exactly what he came back for: a trip to the postseason.
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