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USC FOOTBALL FYI

Matt Barkley says he never thought about leaving USC

Sophomore quarterback says playing for the Trojans is still his best path to the NFL, despite sanctions.

July 29, 2010|By Gary Klein

With the media spotlight glaring upon his coach almost daily, Matt Barkley continued Thursday to demonstrate a newfound nimbleness.

The slimmed-down USC quarterback, however, did it with words rather than fancy footwork while sharing the stage with Lane Kiffin and holding court with reporters during Pacific 10 Conference media day at the Rose Bowl.

Despite NCAA sanctions that will prevent the Trojans from playing in a national title or bowl game this season and possibly in 2011 — USC is appealing the second year of a two-year ban — the sophomore said that leaving USC never entered his mind.

"Coming into USC I had a couple things that I wanted to accomplish," Barkley said. "Obviously, a national championship was up there, so it kind of stinks that we're not going to be able to do that the next couple years.

"But still…"

Kiffin did not allow Barkley to finish the sentence.

"So," Kiffin interjected playfully, "you're announcing that you're staying for your senior year so that you'll be able to do that?"

"Yeah, we'll see," Barkley said, chuckling. "Hopefully."

Barkley's appearance in Pasadena marked the end of a three-day media whirlwind with Pac-10 coaches and players that began on the East Coast. Wearing a cardinal golf shirt and khaki slacks, the 6-foot-2 Barkley appeared fit and energetic.

He begins training camp at 220 pounds, 10 fewer than last season when he passed for 15 touchdowns with 14 interceptions. Barkley also spent the off-season working to become a more vocal leader.

"Having a year under my belt helped a lot," he said. "I feel a lot more comfortable."

The former Santa Ana Mater Dei High star said the NCAA sanctions have not deterred him from earning a degree from USC and playing in the NFL.

"I figured signing with USC would give me the best chance as a quarterback to go into the league," he said. "That hasn't changed at all.... The road that I am on will prepare me to get a job after college."

With the Trojans out of a bowl game for at least one season, Barkley is considering making a church-sponsored goodwill trip to Africa or South America during the weeks that usually would be spent in bowl preparation.

But with training camp approaching and the Sept. 2 opener at Hawaii only about a month away, he is eager to return to the field.

"It's about time," he said, "to just play ball."

Quick hits

Kiffin confirmed that receiver Travon Patterson had transferred to Colorado and that receiver Brandon Carswell had decided to remain at USC rather than transfer to Cincinnati. Kiffin said the Trojans have 71 scholarship players, 14 fewer than the NCAA maximum. USC has lost two recruits and five scholarship players since the NCAA announced penalties in June. Juniors and seniors can transfer without having to sit out a season. "It's been free agency that there's no salary cap on," Kiffin lamented. "Our players can leave at any time to go anywhere." … A USC athletic department spokesman said that 11,000 football media guides, with a cover reference to the Trojans' seven Heisman Trophy winners, were shipped from the printer before incoming President Max Nikias ordered that all images and records of Reggie Bush be removed from campus. The online version of the media guide was changed to reference six Heisman winners.

gary.klein@latimes.com

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