In fact, he's the first player to remind you the team's motto this season is "Prep, Not Hype."
Not one for self-promotion, he doesn't even want to acknowledge the Heisman Trophy possibility.
So, it seemed a bit surprising when Barkley tweeted late Tuesday night, "Pretty stoked about this right here… I've dreamt about reppin' USC on this cover for a while now," with a picture of himself on the cover of Sports Illustrated attached.
However, he explained, being on the cover of Sports Illustrated isn't about hype.
It's about his bucket list.
"It's a pretty cool deal," Barkley said. "It got me real excited just because, I wouldn't say it was a goal, but kind of like a bucket list type thing in your football career."
The Newport Beach native grew up reading Sports Illustrated for Kids before graduating to Sports Illustrated.
As freshman at USC, he saw the wall in Heritage Hall of fellow Trojans who also graced the cover over the years, "it's been awhile since the Trojans have been on there," he said.
In true Barkley fashion, being the cover-athlete on Sports Illustrated isn't about the Matt Barkley brand.
It's about bringing back the tradition of Troy.
"I think it's kind of cool for the program," he said, "for USC to be back in that position."
USC head coach Lane Kiffin echoed the same sentiment, "'SC should be on the cover of Sports Illustrated," he said. "That should be a normal thing and so I think we're on our way back to being there."
Asked if he was worried about the "SI jinx," Barkley responded, "I've never heard of that. I don't believe in cover jinxes, superstitions."
He can settle any jinx dispute, and cross another football accomplishment off the bucket list, if the Trojans appear on the cover once again, perhaps sometime in January.