In the world of College Football, few true freshmen make their way into a starting lineup. Even more rare is when a true freshman makes the starting roster of a major program. A true freshman playing quarterback, though? Hogwash!
Yet that, my friends, is what young phenoms Matt Barkley and Tate Forcier have achieved.
The only question now is: Who deserves more credit—Barkley or Forcier? Today, Bleacher Report will give you readers the answer via a creature vs. creature. And of course, all of you will walk away with the knowledge that Barkley is the better of the two.
Barkley is not your average studly blond-haired quarterback. Between his athletic pedigree, his performance in adversity, and his off-the-field character, Barkley is hands down the better and more accomplished true freshman quarterback.
Barkley, unlike Mark Sanchez before him, was born to be an athlete. His father, Les, was an All-American in water polo at USC. His cousin, Robbie Boyer, is a walk-on for the football team. Simply put, his family has athletic blood.
Not only is Barkley the first true freshman ever to start a season opener for USC (Forcier is the third for Michigan), but Matt was also the first freshman quarterback since 1984 to start for his high school, Mater Dei.
Even Matt Leinart, a future Heisman trophy winner and NFL quarterback, did not start his freshman year at Mater Dei. Nor was Leinart allowed to call his own plays—something that Barkley was allowed to do since his sophomore year of high school, and a luxury never given to any other Mater Dei quarterback.
Matt’s accomplishments led to his ranking of No. 1 overall high school player in the nation, as well as Gatorade national player of the year. Try beating that, Tater Tots.
A true athlete with a history to back it, Barkley’s pedigree surely outweighs that of Tate Forcier.
2. Performance in Adversity
Sure, anyone can beat San Jose State with Trojan-level talent around them. But the measly Spartans were not to be Barkley’s true test.
Tate Forcier, admittedly, has played and won against top talent. Much like Barkley, he won by a sliver against a ranked Notre Dame team. However, Michigan’s largest lead in that game was by 11. Barkley cannot be responsible for a defense that gives up a 20-point lead.
However, where Tate and Matt differ is in the number of victories against ranked teams. While Tate lost heartbreakers to Iowa and an unranked Michigan State, Barkley led an historic comeback drive against Ohio State and obliterated Cal Berkeley.
Oh, and Matt Barkley is yet to lose a game as a starter. Forcier may have more touchdowns, but Barkley has the superior passer rating, more yards, and more wins—in less games. The stats speak for themselves.
Understand—I am NOT claiming that Barkley is the West Coast Tim Tebow. Barkley does not preach his religion; he does not impose it on anyone. However, he does use his upbringing to help others. In high school, he helped start an organization to rebuild a marine outpost. He has helped run an orphanage in South Africa.
Even more impressive, Matt graduated from high school with a 3.77 GPA, and continues to work hard in school. He seldom parties, and never drinks. He lives and breathes football, school, and faith.
I do not know enough of Tate’s lifestyle, but Barkley has set a great example for us all—something not usually associated with a USC quarterback.
Barkley is not your average college quarterback—no wonder he is USC’s first ever season-starting true freshman. All of his prior accomplishments, his current feats over adversity, and his admirable character all contribute to a unique athlete who is expected by some to be the NFL’s No. 1 overall draft pick in the coming years.
Where are those expectations for Tate Forcier?
Find out if they come even close (they probably don't) in my colleague Jay Nicols' retort, http://bleacherreport.com/articles/277103-creature-v-creature-better-freshman-qb-matt-barkley-or-tate-forcier