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Barkley USC-bound

FOOTBALL: Newport Beach resident, a standout junior quarterback, decides early and verbally commits to play for the Trojans.

January 24, 2008|By Soraya Nadia McDonald

When Matt Barkley walks into the first day of Mater Dei football’s off-season training Tuesday, he’ll be feeling quite a bit lighter.

Not because the 6-foot-3, 210-pound junior quarterback lost any weight, but because he knows exactly what’s in his future: a sea of crimson and gold.

The Newport Beach resident announced Wednesday that he has verbally committed to play for USC, following in the footsteps of Mater Dei alum Matt Leinart, now with the Arizona Cardinals.

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“It’s relieving to know that,” Barkley said. “Because I’ve got Mater Dei football starting up again next week, it’s good to have that off my shoulders and be able to focus on Mater Dei.”

Barkley, whose father Les played water polo for the Trojans, had been leaning toward Southern California for some time. A recruiting visit Saturday sealed the deal in his mind.

“I love the school,” Barkley said. “I love the colors. I love the atmosphere. I just knew that this was the time.”

Barkley can only make a verbal commitment since he won’t be able to sign a national letter of intent until February 2009. But as far as he’s concerned, there’s no wavering.

“I’m confident in my decision and I’m going to stay with it,” said Barkley, who received his first formal scholarship offer from Colorado Coach Dan Hawkins. “Nothing’s going to change it unless ’SC goes to hell in a handbasket, but I don’t think that’s going to happen.”

The quarterback also felt secure in his decision because he’ll be joining Mater Dei senior Khaled Holmes at USC. Holmes was the Monarchs’ starting left tackle for the past three seasons.

“He’s a great kid, a great football player, a great tackle,” Barkley said. “I’m really excited to be able to go to school with him.”

Barkley made Mater Dei history when he became the only quarterback to start on varsity as a freshman under head coach Bruce Rollinson.

Barkley was recently named Gatorade National Player of the Year, and was the inaugural recipient of the Joe Montana Quarterback of the Year award, which is given to the top high school quarterback in the nation. Barkley is the first junior to win the Gatorade national award.

Barkley has been widely regarded as a future possible Heisman trophy candidate. Mater Dei has already produced two Heisman winners: John Huarte (1964 with Notre Dame) and Leinart (2004 with USC).

Barkley led the Monarchs to a 9-2 finish this past season, and Mater Dei fell 48-26 to Crespi of Ecino in the quarterfinals of the CIF Southern Section Pac-5 playoffs.

Now the focus turns to Mater Dei senior wide receiver Robbie Boyer, Barkley’s cousin and long-time go-to-guy. The two are best friends who live just a few hundred yards from each other. Boyer has been recruited by Harvard, UCLA, and Stanford.

“I’m hoping that he can come to ’SC with me,” Barkley said. “I’m going to sit down and talk with him. He’s on his own journey right now, but I’ll be with him wherever he goes.”


SORAYA NADIA McDONALD may be reached at (714) 966-4613 or at soraya.mcdonald@latimes.com.

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