Matt Barkley Injury: How Missing 2012 Sun Bowl Impacts USC QB's Draft Stock

Ian Berg@@ShugJordanPkwyCorrespondent IDecember 28, 2012

PASADENA, CA - NOVEMBER 17:  Quarterback Matt Barkley #7 of the USC Trojans drops back to pass against the UCLA Bruins in the second half at the Rose Bowl on November 17, 2012 in Pasadena, California. UCLA defeated USC 38-28.  (Photo by Jeff Gross/Getty Images)
Jeff Gross/Getty Images

Thursday the news fell that Matt Barkley’s USC career has ended with a nagging sprained shoulder injury. Barkley will make the trip to El Paso, Tex. with the Trojans to the Sun Bowl, but he will not play due to the injury

The good news for Barkley is that missing the Sun Bowl won’t hurt his draft stock—it actually may help.

At this point it has become clear that Max Wittek is the future and is more than capable of leading the Trojans to a win in this bowl game.

Barkley would prove nothing by playing in the game. His focus should be getting to the Senior Bowl healthy and preparing for his pro day that will come this spring. 

Barkley has not made a decision on whether or not he will try and play in the Senior Bowl according to the Orange County Register, but if he could get the shoulder in playing shape in time it would be the best way to finish his collegiate career. 

Entering 2012 Barkley was a Heisman candidate that was expected to be one of the first quarterbacks chosen in the 2013 NFL draft. A moderately successful season has some pushing him down some mock drafts, but Mel Kiper Jr. with ESPN still has Barkley in his first-round projection

In the past four seasons Barkley has put together one of the best careers of any USC quarterback, eventually breaking the all-time passing touchdown record for the Trojans in October surpassing Matt Leinart who finished his career with 99 touchdown tosses. 

He has thrown for 12,327 yards, 116 touchdowns and 48 interceptions in his career. Barkley helped guide the Trojans to 34 wins over the past four seasons, and led this team through a rough NCAA sanctions period stemming from the Reggie Bush investigation.

There are no doubts that Barkley holds his place in USC history as one of the best signal-callers that have donned the cardinal and gold for the Trojans. His time has come to move on, and nothing he could do in the Sun Bowl would help him raise his stock any further. 

Sitting out this game is a blessing for Barkley as he prepares to enter the NFL draft in April. Trojans fans should be thankful for his time in L.A. and look forward to the future with Max Wittek leading the team. 

Barkley will leave L.A. as highly regarded as he came. He left this team better than he found it—it’s time to move on to the next level.