EL PASO, Texas — Matt Barkley came to Southern California as a hot-shot recruit, seemingly destined to be the Trojans’ next star quarterback. For the most part he delivered on that promise during a record-breaking four-year run as USC’s starter.
Barkley, though, won’t get to give a grand finale.
He won’t play in the Sun Bowl against Georgia Tech on New Year’s Eve because of a lingering injury to his right shoulder. Doctor’s didn’t clear him to play, coach Lane Kiffin said.
Kiffin said redshirt freshman Max Wittek will start.
“I’m still here for the guys and still trying to help Max and even Cody (Kessler), if he needs to play — to help those guys get ready and with the game plan,” Barkley said. “I’m trying to be here as much as I can for this team to finish strong.”
Barkley’s throwing shoulder was injured during USC’s second-to-last game against UCLA and he didn’t play in the season-finale against Notre Dame. Wittek started the game and the Trojans lost to the Fighting Irish to fall to 7-5 on the season.
“I know he wanted to play,” Kiffin said. “He wanted to finish on a good note. He’s not been hurt very much in his four years here, but unfortunately when he has he’s missed some really big games.”
Barkley was a celebrated prospect from southern California— he went to the same high school as Heisman Trophy winner Matt Leinart — who grew up dreaming of playing for USC. He won the starting job as a freshman in 2009, beat Ohio State on the road in second game of his career and appeared on the way to becoming a college football star to rival Leinart, Carson Palmer and Mark Sanchez.
Barkley went on to rewrite the Pac-12 record book during a USC-record 47 starts over four seasons, becoming the conference leader in touchdown passes, yards passing, completions and total offense.
But so much more was expected from him and the Trojans this season, when Barkley announced last January that he would return for his senior year.