Quarterback Matt Barkley of Santa Ana Mater Dei, considered the No. 1 high school football prospect in the nation for the class of 2009, abruptly ended the recruiting process on Wednesday by announcing he had committed to USC.
"I'm very excited," said the 6-foot-3, 220-pound junior who passed for 3,560 yards and 35 touchdowns and was selected the Gatorade national player of the year.
Barkley said he visited USC on Saturday and came to the conclusion there was no need to wait any longer on announcing a decision, even though he can't sign a letter of intent until February 2009.
"With all the success USC has to offer, I feel it's the best opportunity to grow as a quarterback," Barkley said. "The competition is like none other.
"I've always loved USC and I wanted to get the burden of the recruiting process over before I start back with Mater Dei football."
Barkley's decision offers a boost to the Trojans just as rival UCLA was gaining attention for hiring former USC assistant Norm Chow as its offensive coordinator.
On the same day last Saturday that Barkley visited USC Coach Pete Carroll and offensive coordinator Steve Sarkisian, he later went to UCLA for an unofficial visit with his cousin, receiver Robbie Boyer, and was taken around campus by Bruins Coach Rick Neuheisel.
Barkley said he considers Chow "a great coach" and had met him previously at a camp, but his ties to USC were strong, considering that his father, Les, played water polo for the Trojans.
Barkley's private coach, Steve Clarkson, said, "He's had a silent commitment since last October. It was a decision he felt good about but never announced until now."
Barkley, a starter at Mater Dei since he was a freshman, has a 3.9 grade-point average and earned praise this season for his ability to throw deep passes with great accuracy.