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|Barkley no regrets staying at USC|
No matter what happens, Matt Barkley will have no regrets.
Despite being a potential top-10 pick in the 2012 NFL draft, Barkley chose to return to USC for his senior season, and he's not looking back.
"I've got a lot of experience under my belt now," Barkley said. "We have quite the opportunity in front of us, and I'm just going to make the most of every game and every play that I get."
Barkley returns to the Trojans after starting three seasons at quarterback, and that's elevated USC as a preseason top pick from various media outlets, including a No. 3 in the USA Today Coaches Poll.
But is it championship or bust for Barkley?
"It certainly seems that way," said Barkley at the 2012 Manning Passing Academy in Thibodaux, La., in July.
Still, Barkley refuses to get caught up in all of the hype surrounding this season. Instead, he's simply enjoying his time with his "best friends," his teammates. It's something he loves to do, and he better love it since he spends more time with them than he does his family.
And as Barkley enters his final season of college football, he's an instant Heisman Trophy favorite, largely because of what he's accomplished in his career at USC. Since starting as a freshman, Barkley has recorded 9,054 passing yards, 80 touchdowns and 33 interceptions.
That explains why Barkley's announcement to return last December was filled with cheerleaders and band members. It was more pep rally, less press conference.
"That was a funny story," Barkley said. "That was right around Christmas time, so the band was doing their annual Christmas carols around campus. They happened to see the setup, so they came in. It all came together pretty nicely. I didn't expect all of those people to be there."
Returning with Barkley to USC's offense will be two receivers that topped 1,000 yards in 2011.
Due to USC's heavy reliance on Barkley's aerial assault, junior Robert Woods totaled 1,292 yards receiving while sophomore Marqise Lee gained 1,143.
So when it comes to spreading the ball around to talented receivers in the NFL, Barkley should have plenty of experience coming out of college. But even though they record monstrous numbers, Barkley said his teammates are unselfish.
"It's one of the great things about this team. We don't have a lot of individuals. We have a team of great character," Barkley said. "You kind of saw that at the end of last year. We were meshing well together and just having fun. You want to play hard for your buddy and we'll continue to do that this year."
USC finished last season on a four-game win streak, including a 38-35 upset against No. 4 Oregon and a 50-0 slaughter against rival, UCLA. Entering 2012, the momentum is on the Trojans' side, and no matter what happens, Barkley's sure he made the right decision to return.
"Looking back, I don't think I'll have any regrets no matter what happens," he said.
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