By: Steve Clarkson
When the USC Football season started, quarterback Matt Barkley was regarded as the Top Quarterback in college and possibly the number one pick overall in the 2013 NFL Draft. At this time, USC was also picked to run the table on the way to a National Championship and Matt Barkley was expected to win the Heisman Trophy for a storybook ending. That was then and this is now. USC ended the season on a four game losing streak and finished with a 7-5 record. To make matters worse Matt Barkley was injured in the UCLA loss and his availability for the Hyundai Sun Bowl game is in doubt.
The Critics have come out, and like always, the starting quarterback becomes the culprit, trying to make us believe that Matt Barkley’s stock may have fallen at such a rate that he may no longer be a first round look.
The Evolution of A Quarterback is a long process. Before I dive into it, I would like to mention that this is free advice for Matt, his family, and all who represent him. This is what I would like to see happen between now and April’s draft….
When all is said and done, Matt Barkley will not only be in the first round, but a top 20 pick in April’s draft.
The last time the Spirit of Troy witnessed Matt Barkley, he was walking out on the field with arm in sling to the chorus of a standing ovation, in recognition for all he sacrificed for the good of the Cardinal & Gold.
Matt came back under the mantra of “unfinished business”. Of course, this season isn’t what he and his teammates had in mind, but I’ll argue that Matt accomplished quite bit given the situation of USC. I’m sure Matt has the urge to play in USC’s bowl game and be in that uniform one more time, but that would be a mistake!
1st Piece of Advice: Matt should continue to do what he’s always done, which is to keep USC moving forward. In my opinion, Matt playing in the bowl game is meaningless for his career. Playing too soon after his injury could do a lot of damage if not 100% healthy.
2nd Piece of Advice: The next game Matt should play in is the Senior Bowl, period! This will give Matt and his agents enough time to survey the landscape and come up with a proper strategy for Matt leading up to April’s draft.
I’ve been a part of this process for more than 25 years and what history has shown us is that trends change. Each quarterback has their own trend and it is ever changing. Barkley was the “can’t miss kid coming into college.” Now, there are whispers that Matt’s stock has fallen, and people are questioning his ability and thus his future quarterback success.
3rd Piece of Advice: There is no better time than now to take these months and get back to the “can’t miss kid coming into the NFL.”
Matt Barkley’s Check List:
- 9 weeks to prepare for the Senior Bowl-This is a time to work on all your weaknesses while still maintaining all the things you have done well up to this point.
- Re-introduce the public to Matt Barkley-Highlight the attributes that have made you so special, i.e. all your charity here in the United States, overseas, your work with the Marines, and of course why you came back to USC in the first place…
- Senior Bowl should be where you shine the most.- Your ability to communicate to your coaches will be noticed. This is the time where the evaluators will be more than impressed with your ability to make and execute all the plays.
- Next up is the NFL combine. To work out? Or not to workout? That is the question…-This question will be answered based on your performance at the Senior Bowl. Let’s assume the game went well, very well…Because you played so well at the Senior Bowl, everyone will have just seen the incredible talent you have, with doubters hiding for the shadows. Your performance you will then be enable you to take the NFL combine as a time to focus on the personal interviews etc. Make sure to have your agents notify the NFL that you will only be participating in the physicals and the interviews at the combine.
- Moving onto the Pro Day workout. This is more like a “Performance.”- The key is to write your script that highlights the needs of teams that are most likely to select a quarterback in draft.
NOTE: This process is made easier when your agents send out a request to the coaches asking for what they would like to see in your Pro Day workout.
- Make sure your “Performance,” leaves the coaches and evaluators wanting to see more.
- Always leave enough room in your “script” to execute the unexpected, i.e., coaches may request for a specific throw or movement
- If you do well at the Pro Day, you will be invited to perform a private workout with those teams that are very, very interested in you.
NOTE: These workouts will most likely be with the coaches and the offensive coordinators.
- Finally at the end of the day, everything that you’ve displayed over the last 8 years of your quarterbacking life will come down to this question…
How will they view Matt Barkley as the LEADER of their franchise?
-Ability to reach a higher ceiling
-Intelligence on and off the field
LAST BUT NOT LEAST, PEOPLE WILL FINALLY COME TO THEIR SENSES…THAT YOUR BODY OF WORK OVER THE LAST FOUR YEARS WILL PROVE, ONCE AGAIN THAT YOU ARE WHAT THEY THOUGHT YOU WERE…”THE CAN’T MISS KID COMING INTO THE NFL.”
-By: Steve Clarkson