Matt Barkley's decision to return to the college ranks hasn't payed off as of late, but the USC quarterback will get his revenge in the NFL.
This season was supposed to be the year that Barkley and the Trojans made good on their return to bowl eligibility and a preseason No. 1 ranking, but with three games left to go in 2012, USC has failed to live up to the hype. What's more disappointing is the fact that Barkley has failed to live up to expectations individually.
At the end of the 2011 season, Barkley finished his junior year with 39 TD passes for 3,528 yards and only seven interceptions. It was a Heisman-worthy season, even though Barkley didn't end up winning the prestigious award.
The possibilities were endless for the young quarterback as he pondered his decision to return for his senior season or go pro. There was no doubt in my mind Barkley would have been one of the top QBs taken in the draft last year, but I figured another year of experience might be what he needed to be a No. 1 pick.
After Barkley made the decision to return to USC, you had to assume the reason he came back was to match his 2011 numbers and put the Trojans atop of the BCS standings. Unfortunately, the only thing Barkley has managed to do this season is hurt his draft stock.
The Trojans have stumbled to a 6-3 record on the year with lackluster performances against Stanford and Washington. And, while USC did put up one heck of a fight against the nation's top scoring offense this week, the Trojans did lose to Oregon 62-51.
Statistically, Barkley hasn't had a terrible season throwing the football, but his numbers could be much better. After the loss to Oregon, Barkley now has 30 TDs for 2,750 yards and 10 interceptions.
Right away, you notice that his interception numbers have gone up from last season—something NFL scouts will be paying close attention to as Barkley finishes his senior season. Likewise, Barkley hasn't played well in his team's losses, coughing up two interceptions in each of those games.
All that aside, this season shouldn't be an indication of Barkley's pro potential.
Playing under the spotlight at USC has truly prepared Barkley for a career at the next level, and while he's not been perfect at times, he's handled himself fairly well under the pressures of being "the guy" at USC.
If you've watched some of Barkley highlights, it's easy to see why he's heavily considered one of the most highly scouted quarterbacks. He has amazing accuracy and poise in the pocket. Yes, he does make bad throws from time to time, but he is the definition of a natural pocket passer.
That 2011 season was no fluke for this kid. He has all the tools to make it in the NFL. Barkley may not get the type of storybook ending he wanted for his senior season, but he'll get his revenge next April when he's a top-10 pick in the NFL draft.