Every year, there are a few high-quality underclassmen in college football that have a choice of entering the NFL draft or returning to school. Matt Barkley of USC should choose the latter.
The quarterback has already submitted the paperwork for an evaluation from scouts, but his decision should go deeper than this result.
Many already believe he would be near the top of most teams' draft boards. Scouts Inc. has him listed as the No. 6 overall player eligible. It believes he is the second-best quarterback behind Andrew Luck and in front of Big 12 stars Robert Griffin III and Landry Jones.
For most players, this decision should be a no-brainer. Barkley has had a quality college career and is set to make millions of dollars as a top-10 pick in the 2012 NFL draft. Unfortunately, the quarterback has not had the same career as a normal top pick.
The players at USC received a raw deal these past few years. The Trojans were placed on probation for two seasons due to recruiting violations. Players who signed letters of intent almost a decade ago forced the current USC team to miss the postseason, regardless of how good the team was on the field.
The postseason ban prevented the media attention that the program deserved. USC finished the season with a 10-2 record and a No. 5 ranking in the AP Poll. The Trojans won an impressive road game over No. 4 Oregon and rightfully won the South division in the Pac-12.
Matt Barkley, who had an outstanding season for this forgotten team, was omitted from the list of Heisman finalists who earned a trip to New York City. The junior broke a USC record with 39 touchdowns, while also passing for 3,528 yards and only seven interceptions. He threw six touchdown passes in two different games this year.
This is why the quarterback should return next season—to finally be able to get some respect.
USC will return stud receiver Robert Woods and starting running back Curtis McNeal. Tackle Matt Kalil is one of the best offensive linemen in the country, and if he decides to return, it could help make one of the best offenses in the nation. This group with Barkley could compete for a national championship right away.
Barkley would also be able to win the Heisman Trophy, something that he has always wanted to achieve.
While other quarterbacks suffered from returning to school, like Matt Leinart and Jake Locker, they were projected to be the No. 1 overall picks before falling to later in the first round. With the hype that is Andrew Luck, Matt Barkley has no chance at grabbing that top spot. By returning to school, he can raise his profile even more and possibly become the first pick of the draft, while also receiving all of the extra money that goes with it.
It is difficult trying to tell a young man to give up millions of dollars and a chance to play professional football. However, staying in school will be the best decision in both the short and long term for Matt Barkley.