Matt Barkley, the pride of Newport Coast and Mater Dei High School in Santa Ana, announced today he will return to USC for his senior season.
There had been speculation the quarterback might end his college career by entering the NFL draft, where he was forecast to be among the top picks.
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Fueling some assumptions Barkley would walk was USC's probation status in college football, which due to events that occurred before he arrived on campus has cost the Trojans scholarships, bowl games and serious poll consideration. It may have contributed to Barkley, who threw a Pac-12 record 39 touchdown passes this season, finishing sixth in Heisman Trophy balloting.
So, flanked by six Heisman trophies during a packed news conference in USC's Heritage Hall, the 21-year-old had students and supporters on edge like opposing defenses--until he made it official he's not going anywhere to loud cheers.
"I am staying so I can finish what I started," Barkley reportedly said at the press conference, adding he'd consulted with family, friends, coaches, former players and NFL personnel and agents before reaching his decision.
The three-year starter and team captain led the Trojans to a 10-2 record this season. If he does not own the campus now, he will his senior year.