Tonight the USC Trojans will face off against the Oregon Ducks in the showcase game of the evening. The Ducks are still in contention for a bid to the national championship game and this is the Trojans' Super Bowl.
On the field tonight will also be two of the top players in all of college football in Matt Barkley and LaMichael James. Both players are putting up Heisman-like numbers for their respective teams and both players seem to be moving up NFL draft boards each game.
Who will have the best game tonight is unknown. However, in this slide show we will breakdown both players and predict which team will have the most successful NFL career.
Matt Barkley is one the fastest rising players on NFL draft boards. He is 6’3" and 230 pounds and has good size for his position. He has the height to see over the line and the body to take the grind of the NFL season. He is deceptively strong and a better athlete than people give him credit for.
Berkley had to go through trial by fire his freshman season. As a result, he had 15 touchdowns but also 14 interceptions. However, every season since that time he has begun to grow into the player that he was projected to be as a high school recruit.
This season he is putting up Heisman-like numbers with 2,782 yards and 29 touchdowns to six interceptions.
It is not just his numbers that have improved, his overall skill level has as well. He now sees the whole field and can make the short and intermediate pass as well as the deep pass with touch. His foot work has now become solid and outside of Andrew Luck he is the best quarterback available in next season’s draft.
I also believe Berkley has grown as a leader. He has taken the lead on this team and they are now ranked No. 18 in the nation despite all of the chaos that they have had to face with the recent NCAA sanctions.
The future is bright for Berkley.
LaMichael James might be the most exciting football player in all of college football. James only needs 293 yards to reach the 1,500 yard mark for the third time in his career.
For his career he has ran for 4,484 yards on 667 carries and 47 touchdowns.
The biggest knock on James is how durable will he be. Critics will point to his small frame of 5’8" and 180 pounds. Supporters will point to his 667 career carries as a rebuttal. However, the problem is that he does not run between the tackles, as he will need to be able to do in the NFL.
James is very elusive and players rarely get a clean shot on him. When he has been hit or injured he has shown great toughness and resolve.
The thing that James has that cannot be measured in height, inches and pounds is his wow factor. Anytime James touched the ball he is a threat to score six points. Make no mistake about it, this is something that impresses NFL scouts.
He also has good hands and could become a force in the passing game out of the backfield. He reminds many of Barry Sanders because of his small stature with great elusiveness.
I believe that Matt Barkley is the best quarterback to come out of USC in recent memory. Those who compare him to Mark Sanchez and Matt Leinart are not looking close enough.
Barkley will have a fine NFL career and will likely be a Pro Bowler on multiple occasions. I believe he is one of the most complete quarterbacks to come to the NFL in the last three seasons.
Barkley will be able to compete for playing time as a rookie. Don’t be surprised if his NFL career mirrors his college career with early struggles. Barkley, however, is resilient and a student of the game, and will ultimately succeed.
If James goes to an NFL team who knows how to use him he will be successful. He should be utilized much like Reggie Bush was in New Orleans. He is not going to put up monster rushing yards but can have an effect on special teams, receiving and as a decoy.
Both players will have solid careers but Barkley could be a true star.