Make no mistake about the fact that Matt Barkley had a fantastic career as a starting quarterback for the USC Trojans. No, he did not win a BCS Championship or a Heisman Trophy award. He will not go out as the No. 1 pick in the NFL Draft. He did not leave the program any better than it was before he arrived. But it was a hell of a ride.
Unfortunately, for Barkley, it was just one that should have ended a year earlier.
Barkley could have left USC after last season and would have almost assuredly been a top 10 pick in last year’s draft. Andrew Luck still would have gone before him, as would Robert Griffin III, in all likelihood. But Barkley could have easily gone ahead of Ryan Tannehill at No. 8 to the Miami Dolphins, or at least convinced a team to move up into the top 10 to select him. Either way, even if he was not a top 10 pick, he was guaranteed to go in the first round.
Despite the fact the Barkley shattered numerous school and conference records, he is no longer a sure thing as a first round pick in the 2013 NFL Draft.
This is why I am against education.
Had Barkley left after his junior season, his raft stock would have still been very high. Like another former standout USC quarterback – Matt Leinart – Barkley hurt his stock by coming back for his senior year. This seems to happen far too often, especially with quarterbacks.
Barkley will not be able to go out a winner, as the shoulder injury he suffered in a November 17 loss to the UCLA Bruins will prevent him from playing in the Sun Bowl against the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets on New Year’s Eve. It also cost Barkley the chance to hand the Notre Dame Fighting Irish their first loss, and his college football career will come to an end with him serving as nothing more than a cheerleader in a bowl game that nobody saw the Trojans playing in this season, considering the lofty expectations at the start of the 2012 campaign.
Having yet to be cleared to play, Barkley also did not say whether or not he would be able to play in the Senior Bowl on January 26. If he plays and plays well, he could still wind up being drafted in the first round. Of course, if he misses the game, he could perform well enough at the draft combine in order to work his way back into round one of April’s draft.
But if he does not play well in the Senior Bowl, or if he struggles to impress at the combine, it could all continue to go south for Barkley.