NFL Combine Preview 2013: Matt Barkley Top Quarterback Prospect In Indianapolis, USC Trojans Star Projected Top Five Draft Pick

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Feb 18, 2013 01:44 PM EST
USC Trojans Quarterback Matt Barkley
Matt Barkley will not throw at the NFL combine this week in Indianapolis, holding out until his pro day later down the line due to an injury he sustained earlier in the season.(Photo : Reuters) "

Matt Barkley will not throw at the NFL combine this week in Indianapolis, holding out until his pro day later down the line due to an injury he sustained earlier in the season.

The USC Trojans quarterback is expected to be one of the first ones taken in the draft in April and he likely would be taken even higher if he didn't have the shoulder issue. He had a very prolific career at USC and set many Pac-12 records and school records while there.

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Teams looking for a franchise player will have an experienced one in Barkley and he played in a very pro style offense with Lane Kiffin in USC. The draft is relatively weak with quarterbacks compared to last season with Robert Griffin and Andrew Luck, but there are still solid options in Barkley, Geno Smith and Tyler Wilson as well as Matt Glennon.

Barkley injured the shoulder on Nov. 17 against UCLA after getting tackled hard to the ground late in the fourth quarter. The Trojans lost the game 38-28.

Barkley and the Trojans entered the 2012 season with high expectations after finally coming off of a two-year postseason ban following the Reggie Bush scandal. Barkley stayed at the school despite the ban and hoped to bring a national title back to Southern California for his senior season.

The Trojans were ranked No. 1 in the Associated Press preseason poll and Barkley was a Heisman candidate to start the year, but trailed off as the USC struggled. The team opened the year 6-1, but played in close games with Utah and Washington before losing two straight to Arizona and Oregon. The team defeated Arizona State 38-17 on Nov. 10, but lost the final two games against UCLA and Notre Dame.

Barkley still had a fantastic season for the Trojans, throwing for 2,273 yards and 36 touchdowns with 15 interceptions while completing over 63 percent of his passes. He had 301 yards and three touchdowns in his final college game against USC and passed for a career-high six touchdowns earlier this season against Colorado in a 50-6 win.

Barkley's play helped wide receiver Marqise Lee become one of the best wide receivers in the nation, making 112 catches for 1,680 yards and 14 touchdowns this season while winning the Fred Biletnikoff Award.

Although his final season with the Trojans was a disappointment, Barkley will go down as one of the most productive Pac-12 quarterbacks of all-time, leaving the school with career-conference records in total offense, passing touchdowns and passing yardage.

Barkley came to USC as the No. 1 recruit in the nation and became the first true freshman starting quarterback in school history by then-head coach Pete Carroll. He had 2,735 yards passing and 15 touchdowns with seven interceptions that first year, but continued to improve steadily in each of the next three seasons. He improved his completion percentage in 2010 to 62 percent from 59 and threw for 2,791 yards and 26 touchdowns. Barkley's best season came during his junior year when he threw for 3,528 yards and 39 touchdowns while competing nearly 70 percent of his passes.

USC won 35 games furring Barkley's four years starting at quarterback and played in only one bowl game due to NCAA sanctions. When USC was put on probation, Barkley took a leadership role after the departure of Carroll and helped keep the team together during a tough time by staying at the school. He hoped to bring a BCS championship to USC during his senior season, but instead it was derailed by injuries and mediocre play by the Trojans.

Barkley finishes his college playing career with 64.1% completion percentage and 12,327 passing yards with a Pac-12 Conference record 116 touchdowns.

Some of Barkley's best performances during his career came during USC's biggest games. He passed for 423 yards and six touchdowns last season in a 50-0 win over rival UCLA and led the Trojans to important road victories over Ohio State, Notre Dame and Oregon. In his first game against Notre Dame in 2009, Barkley passed for 380 yards and two touchdowns and later that season won his only bowl game, defeating Boston College 24-13 in the Emerald Bowl.

In his second career start for USC, Barkley helped lead a game-winning drive in the fourth quarter against Ohio State and then one year later went head-to-head with Stanford quarterback Andrew Luck in a 37-35 loss in which he passed for 390 yards.

The Trojans did a nice job against Notre Dame while Barkley was at the school, including last year in when he had 224 yards passing and three touchdowns in the 31-17 USC victory. He also defeated a high-powered Oregon team last season, throwing for 323 yards and four touchdowns while completing 26-of-34 passes in the 38-35 win.

Barkley's future now will be in the NFL, where he was projected to be a first-round draft pick before getting hurt. The injury is not a long-term problem, but teams may be weary of drafting a quarterback who injured their shoulder during their final year of college.

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