Head of the Class

Every year there is a recruit that stands out among the top players in the country because of their athleticism and poise under pressure. In 2009, the player that has separated himself from the other elite prospects across the country is USC quarterback commit Matt Barkley.

Every year there is a recruit that stands out among the top players in the country because of their athleticism and poise under pressure. In 2009, the player that has separated himself from the other elite prospects across the country is USC quarterback commit Matt Barkley.

College coaches and recruiting experts have kept a close eye on the gifted gunslinger ever since he stepped under center as a freshman, to start at quarterback for Mater Dei High School, a program that has produced two Heisman Trophy winners, John Huarte and Matt Leinart.


USC commit Matt Barkley
Barkley has all the physical tools that you look for in a quarterback, but he is so highly-rated because of his mental approach to the game.

"Coach Rollinson has helped me with that," Barkley said of his ability to read a defense. "I think my coaches at Mater Dei have done a great job of preparing me mentally for knowing defenses and knowing what to expect."

Matt's father, Les, was a former USC water polo player and Matt grew up a USC football fan, so it was no surprise when he committed to USC back in January.

"Their whole coaching staff is so energetic and they have such a passion for the game. I really like that," Barkley said when asked why he chose USC. "The last six years, what they have done is pretty ridiculous in terms of wins and bowl games and I want to be a part of that."

Since making his commitment, Barkley has gone from being recruited to being a recruiter.

"I'm like a recruiter for USC now," Barkley said with a big smile. "I don't mind it, trying to get the best players to play with me is always a good thing.

"I have been talking to Kevin Graf, Morrell Presley, Vontaze Burfict and even Devon Kennard, who hasn't committed yet, and Manti Te'o."

Barkley is the crown jewel of the Trojans' 2009 class, which has gotten off to a quick start, with Pete Carroll and staff securing commitments from ten outstanding high school recruits and one junior college prospect.

"I'm excited, it's going to be fun with the talent that we have in this class. I am looking forward to playing with some ballers," Barkley said. "We already kind of know each other and we have grown closer. When we get there, it is going to be even better."


Matt Barkley drops back to pass.
With all the hype and praise that he has received Barkley remains a humble kid and doesn't expect any special treatment when he arrives at USC next Fall.

"I have to keep just doing what I have been doing and working hard and try and be an asset to the football team. I'm not going to guarantee any championships," Barkley said with a laugh. "I'm just going to go in and work my hardest like every other rookie does."

As excited as USC fans are to get a look at the young quarterback that they have heard so much about, Barkley is just as excited to be a part of the Trojan Family.

"It's big man, especially in Orange County and Southern California," Barkley said of being a Trojan. "You see USC flags everywhere and everyone is wearing USC sweatshirts and Leinart jerseys. You are entering a family and a community that will get you places.

"To be able to say ‘Fight On' and say that I am a Trojan is a big deal. It's a dream come true, it really is."

If you have any questions, comments or suggestions you can reach Kevin Carden
at kevin@scplaybook.com


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