The USC Trojans football program received an early, extra-special Christmas present this year when their offensive leader, junior quarterback Matt Barkley, announced that he was returning to school in 2012.
During an on-campus press conference, Barkley made his decision to forego the 2012 NFL Draft and return for his senior season clear to a crowd of raucous Trojan faithful.
“I have firmly decided to forego the NFL Draft in 2012 and finish the exceptional and unique journey that I’ve had here at USC,” Barkley announced.
For the past two seasons, the USC football program has been at the mercy of a BCS Bowl ban as part of the sanctions stemming from the “Reggie Bush/illegal gifts” fiasco. Now that the ban has been lifted, the Trojans will be in prime position to push for a PAC-12 crown as well as a berth in one of the coveted BCS Bowls that the program became so accustomed to prior to the dropping of the banhammer.
Despite playing for pride and not much else, the Trojans excelled this year, ending the season with a 10-2 record. Although they lost to Stanford, they were the only PAC-12 team that managed to topple the conference champion Oregon Ducks. If they can stay on the same path while adding more talent to the equation, we could be looking at a USC football team similar to the ones that dominated the mid-2000s.
“I know in my heart that I have not yet finished my journey as a Trojan football player,” Barkley said. “Our USC football team has been through some tough times and we have persevered. But the 2012 team has some serious unfinished business to attend to, and I intend to play a part of it.”
With Barkley returning to school in 2012, look for this USC team that’s expected to return 16 starters to be near the top of the 2012 preseason polls when that time comes. As for those quarterback-needy NFL teams, you better start looking elsewhere for your next franchise gunslinger.
Merry Christmas, Lane Kiffin!