Matt Barkley must have heard the USC fanbase chanting One more year after the Trojans' blowout win against UCLA, and took it to heart.
The star quarterback announced he is returning for his senior year on Thursday, as USC will be bowl eligible after a two-season ban. With his return to college football, Barkley immediately vaults to one of the favorites for the 2012 Heisman Trophy, and perhaps the expected first-overall pick of the 2013 NFL Draft.
Barkley, 21, was considered by some scouts as one of the two best quarterbacks eligible for the 2012 NFL Draft. Stanford's Andrew Luck appears to be the consensus top pick.
Head coach Lane Kiffin and Barkley's family were in attendance at USC's Heritage Hall, when he declared that he had more to accomplish with the Trojans.
This 2012 team has some serious unfinished business to attend to and I plan to play a part in it, said Barkley. I have firmly decided to forgo the 2012 NFL draft and finish that.
The three-year starter led the Trojans to a 10-2 record, and heads into next season with his two best receivers returning: Robert Woods and Marqise Lee. Those receivers, along with a well-stocked collection of tight ends, and a solid offensive line, should mean Barkley will have the opportunity to pile on some big numbers as USC looks to compete for a BCS berth.
Barkley will likely receive competition from Denard Robinson of Michigan, Marcus Lattimore of South Carolina, and Kenjon Barner of Oregon for the Heisman award. However, as a senior, Barkley might be the frontrunner. USC have had three Heisman winners in the past decade, and the Trojans are expected to among the best teams in the nation in 2012.
Last season, Barkley broke a number of records, and is poised to perhaps break many more. He set a Pac-12 record by passing for 39 touchdowns and set a USC record for completion percentage. Against Arizona, Barkley passed for a school-record 468 yards.
Barkley is joined by USC junior safety T.J. McDonald, who also announced he will return for his senior season.