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June 16, 2009

Barkley still competing for starting spot

It's going to take something pretty ridiculous to get Matt Barkley rattled. The rookie five-star quarterback more than survived spring football. He battled for the starting quarterback job, almost winning, and he won over the respect of older and more experienced teammates.

So it shouldn't be a surprise that Barkley's cool under the collar when Joe McKnight and Ronald Johnson take turns covering one another one-on-one with their lips moving faster than their feet.

Barkley's been taking everything in stride this summer, and the Trojan-on-Trojan battles and trash talking haven't thrown him off one bit.

"We had stuff like this all the time in high school. I'm used to all of he offseason throwing like this. It's a lot of fun," Barkley said. "We're pretty laid back because we're not under a time constraint. The good part is we still get the same level of work in as we would at a practice. There's just more joking around.

"The work is still there. We're still getting good throws in."

Barkley wowed coaches, players and fans with his maturity and with the speed he picked up the USC playbook. And even after Aaron Corp was named the No. 1 quarterback, some believed Barkley should've earned the honor.

USC head coach Pete Carroll said Barkley couldn't have been named the starter this past spring because the newcomer hadn't learned USC's hand signals.

When the competition picks back up this fall, that won't be an issue for Barkley.

"I'm done with the hand signals. I've learned them all," Barkley said. "I'm just reviewing them now, just getting repetition. I learned them a few weeks ago. That was a big step for me this summer."

He's taken nothing but steps since arriving on campus a semester early. The head start has been priceless in Barkley's mind.

"It would be a lot different if I were just getting here. This spring and this summer were just great. Getting to know the guys is really huge. I got to know their personalities and their tendencies."

Barkley doesn't doubt he'll get a second shot to win the starting spot this fall, and he's focused on doing just that.

"I still think it's on. That's my goal. It's the one thing I'm striving for this fall," Barkley said. "It would be a dream come true to win this job. I'm just going to keep on competing. The coaches know it's not over, and Aaron knows that too. I'm just going to keep working hard."

Barkley, Corp and Mitch Mustain are working together this summer, all helping to lead the offense during players-only throwing sessions. And while the three quarterbacks are battling, they're doing it with class.

"We don't really talk about who is starting or who is going to get the job, but I'm pretty sure it's in the back of our minds," Barkley said. "I know it's in the back of mine. We're out here competing, but there's no hatred or animosity."


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