Matt Barkley Returning to USC: 9 Reasons Why It Was the Right Decision
Matt Barkley made a decision today that many USC fans had been praying for since the second that the 2011 College Football season came to a close.
It seemed almost inevitable to most that Barkley would run off to the NFL after his electrifying junior season. After all—by virtue of his 3,528 passing yards and 39 touchdowns (to just 7 interceptions)—Barkley had become a top-15 lock for the 2012 NFL Draft.
Then, after teammate Matt Kalil chose to declare for the NFL Draft, the chance of an unlikely Barkley return began to seem nigh on impossible. Yet today, Barkley affirmed his love for the USC Football Program, and decided that he would return for his final season at the University of Southern California.
So now the question on everyone’s lips is: Did Barkley make the right decision?
Here are nine reasons why Barkley did in fact make the right decision to stay at USC for his senior season.
No. 1: Robert Woods
How could you not return knowing that you will be throwing the ball to a First-Team All American, and arguably the best receiver in college football?
Robert Woods has made a name for himself as one of (if not the) best receivers in college football today. Ask any cornerback who has been lucky enough to line up across from him, and they will tell you that he is an absolute nightmare to handle.
He is the most polished route-runner in all of college football, has terrific hands, superb pace and at 6’1”, he has the height to catch every ball thrown his way.
Woods caught 111 balls for 1292 yards and 15 touchdowns this season, and he and Barkley will certainly benefit from having one another this season.
No. 2: Marqise Lee
It’s almost unfair that Barkley not only has one magnificent receiver in Woods, but he also has another in Marqise Lee.
This season, true freshman Marqise Lee made a monster impact, catching 73 passes for 1143 yards and 11 touchdowns—all on his way to becoming another one of the Pac-12’s most deadly receivers.
If you were Matt Barkley, how could you resist the opportunity to throw to two 1,000-yard receivers again?
With weapons like Robert Woods and Marqise Lee, Barkley has the potential to put up some astounding numbers next season.
No. 3: Top 15 Recruiting Class Will Only Grow
According to Rivals, USC currently has the 15th best recruiting class in the nation, and after the news of Barkley’s return, there’ll be a lot of young players who would love nothing more than to join him at USC.
This USC outfit is already tremendously young and talented, and once you throw a top-15 recruiting class into the mix, you have the recipe for a team that will be successful for years to come.
The class already features 5-star tackle Jordan Simmons (pictured). For 5-star tackle Andrus Peat or 5-star receiver Stefon Diggs, the idea of playing with Barkley must be one they would be hard-pressed to turn down.
This recruiting class only assists in spelling out success for Barkley and the Trojans in 2012.
No. 4: Barkley Has Consistently Improved
Not only do you have Robert Woods, Marqise Lee and a top-15 recruiting class, but you also have a quarterback who has been consistently improving ever since he stepped out onto the Coliseum.
There is improvement in every statistical category when it comes to Matt Barkley, and although it can't be quantified, he has also been improving as a leader and a tactician.
His stats have progressed as such (2009-2010-2011):
Passing Yards: 2735, 2791, 3528
Completion Percentage: 59.9 percent, 62.6 percent, 69.1 percent
Touchdowns: 15, 26, 39
Interceptions: 14, 12, 7
Quarterback Rating: 131.3, 141.2, 161.2
If Barkley continues to improve on what was already a great statistical season in 2011, Barkley and USC will be set for a plethora of success next season.
No. 5: BCS Title Contenders
The biggest way in which Barkley and the Trojans could taste success next season would be through a trip to the BCS Championship, and that is a very real possibility.
With a huge majority of starters returning next season, a young team growing in experience, an influx of quality young recruits and a returning Barkley, the recipe is there for a team that is more than capable of going a perfect 12-0 next season.
Barkley led this team to a 10-2 record this season—and given the presence of Woods and Lee, the influx of young recruits and Barkley's consistent improvement—there is no reason why they won’t be able to scratch those two defeats and make a serious push for the BCS Championship Game.
If they fall short of the BCS Championship game though, there will certainly be a Bowl Game spot awaiting Matt Barkley, which takes me to my next point.
No. 6: Playing in a Bowl Game
Barkley is hungry to play in another bowl game, and USC will be in hot demand come Bowl Season next year.
Even if they fall short of the BCS Championship, this team is talented enough to be in the mix for one of the more prominent bowl games next season.
Given the return of Barkley and the depth of talent at USC, they should have no trouble playing in a high profile bowl game. This is an experience that Barkley truly wanted after playing in the Emerald Bowl back in 2009.
The prospect of playing in a bowl game is just another reason why Barkley made the right decision by staying at USC.
No. 7: Heisman Contender
There is a huge opportunity for success for Barkley this season, but this success isn’t solely based on the team. As an individual, Barkley could be primed for some serious success this season.
None would be bigger than having a shot at winning the Heisman Trophy.
Many feel that Barkley was robbed by not being invited to Heisman proceedings this season, however, they shouldn't fear: There is a huge likelihood that Barkley will be granted that privilege next season.
If Barkley can improve on the success he had this season, he could well be a runaway Heisman Trophy winner.
If not the Heisman Trophy, he could win an array of other individual awards, but no award would be bigger than the next individual honor.
No. 8: First Overall Pick Contender
If Barkley can repeat the success he had this year, plus add another bowl game to his resume, he could be a lock for the first overall pick in the 2013 NFL Draft.
It is very early to be looking at the 2013 Draft, but at this stage, Barkley seems like the most polished quarterback prospect of the class. Unless the likes of Xavier Rhodes or Marcus Lattimore have phenomenal seasons, it will most likely be a quarterback at the top of the board, and as of right now, none are better than Matt Barkley.
The prospect of being the first name called by Roger Goodell on draft night is certainly an opportunity worth coming back for.
No. 9: He Finishes His Degree
I’ll be the first to say that if I were as talented as Matt Barkley, and knew that I would be making astronomical amounts of money in the NFL, I probably wouldn’t care a whole lot for my education.
Yet that being said, there is no harm in Barkley completing his Communication major, and he will have the opportunity to do so by returning this season.
Barring a career-ending injury, Barkley will likely never need to put that degree into use, yet the life skills associated with completing many college degrees are ones that cannot be taught elsewhere.
It will likely improve Barkley as a person, and perhaps even as a quarterback.
There is nothing but potential success awaiting Barkley next season.
USC will be amongst the favorites to top the polls come December next year, and Barkley will be amongst the favorites for a plethora of individual honors—including the Heisman Trophy and even the First Overall Pick.
He has the opportunity to restore USC to greatness, and this was surely an opportunity too great to pass up.
Barkley has the college football world at his feet right now, and that alone is why he made the right decision by forgoing the NFL and returning to play for USC.