Former USC Trojan Matt Barkley is an intriguing fellow. People are in love with the guy or down on him, usually because of the track record of USC quarterbacks and because he doesn't have elite arm strength.
I myself have wavered on my opinion of him. I watched him play against my Arizona State Sun Devils and look pretty ordinary. Yet, his body of work is good.
He was on ESPN's Gruden QB Camp recently and he had a chance to work with Jon Gruden, a Super Bowl winning former head coach. You will see some of the episode in the video above, but what was not shown were a couple of great things.To begin, Gruden's conclusion showed he was impressed. Gruden's show was the first public (really kind of public) showing of his throws. He didn't have any concerns.
I was most impressed about something that was unrelated to the actual game itself. It had to do with the type of person and player he is. After Pete Carroll left and Lane Kiffin was hired, and then USC was given sanctions keeping them out of bowl games for two years, he could have left and gone anywhere he wanted. Instead, not only did he stay, he personally went to the athletic office, got the list of Trojan recruits and, before the new coaching staff could, made personal phone calls to all those high school kids who had already committed or were on the bubble. He told them who he was and that he was staying and that he wants them there.
Two of those players who were convinced to still attend USC were Robert Wood and Marqise Lee, his star receivers.
He has faced adversity and injury. His personality is different than Matt Leinart. He was USC's first ever three-time captain.
Physically, nothing stands out about Barkley. He is average in size for his position. He does not have a cannon for an arm. He is not fast.
In fact, you have to read this story about Barkley, written by someone who knew him in high school. Barkley is different. He has an almost inexplicable trait. He has a fire in his belly, something Leinart didn't have. He is super confident, but it isn't arrogance.
I'll admit that I'm starting to worry less about the perceived physical issues. He can make all the throws. His deep ball isn't bad. He isn't Chad Pennington. His velocity is not problematic. He can read coverages and run an offense.
The more I learn about him, the more I think he is going to be pretty dang good.
Here of some other reasons from SB Nation about why you should go after Barkley