Virgen's View: Barkley aims for completion in NFL

When Matt Barkley agreed to a four-year contract with the Philadelphia Eagles on Thursday, much of the talk shifted to the money the quarterback lost for staying another year at USC.

Whatever the amount (terms of the contract weren't disclosed), he gained something that could be more valuable than the dollars he could've earned. Because Barkley, a Newport Beach native, wasn't selected until the fourth round, he acquired a much-needed chip on his shoulder.

He's out to prove to everyone he can achieve success in the NFL and be a productive pro quarterback. Can he do it? Here's one person who believes that he will.

Why? It's because of the adversity he experienced in his final year with the Trojans. The failed expectations at USC, the shoulder injury and the plummeting stock in the NFL Draft will only be fuel for Barkley's fire as he aims to beat out Michael Vick and Nick Foles to become the Eagles' starter.

Barkley is known for his faith in God and his Christian lifestyle. He must know that what took place last year was actually a blessing in disguise.

Growing up in Newport Beach, where he was a star for the Newport-Mesa Jr. All-American Seahawks, it appeared he had a privileged life. Isn't that the stereotype for most who attend private schools? That life seems to be smooth, carefree even, for athletes who compete for Mater Dei.

The chatter I hear in Orange County is mostly positive or pleasant when the Monarchs lose or a program like Servite fails.

The perspective is a big reason Barkley has been such a polarizing figure when it comes to the Daily Pilot's Newport-Mesa coverage. Who wants the spotlight on a kid who didn't play for his local public school?

I've seen the eyes roll in disdain when Barkley has appeared in the Pilot.

But people must understand Barkley and his family made their choices for Barkley's best interest. There was always a plan, to play for Mater Dei, to compete for USC and to pass on the NFL Draft for one more year with the Trojans.

The decisions didn't always lead to championships, but Barkley certainly left his mark at both schools. He was named the Gatorade National Player of the Year while a junior with the Monarchs in 2007. He threw for 9,471 yards and 79 touchdowns, completing 609 of his 1,044 pass attempts (58%) during his career at Mater Dei.

Barkley, a four-year starter at USC, set Pac-12 career records for passing yards (12,327), completions (1,001), touchdown passes (116) and total offense (12,214). He set 20 USC career, season and game records (10 were Pac-12 standards).

You're probably thinking NFL history hasn't been too kind to USC quarterbacks. Mark Sanchez is trying to resurrect his career with the New York Jets, and Carson Palmer is doing the same with the Arizona Cardinals. Matt Leinart is hoping a team will sign him to a contract.

It would be expected that Barkley will struggle, or even fail to become the Eagles' starter this season.

On one hand, new coach Chip Kelly hand-picked Barkley. On the other hand, it wasn't too long ago when Vick ruled the NFL after serving a jail sentence for his involvement with illegal dog-fighting.

Barkley has accuracy as his strength. Now he also has perseverance. The ability to compete amid adversity has only made him stronger.

"He turns adversity into success; he turns the negatives into positives," Mater Dei Coach Bruce Rollinson told me in March when Barkley was inducted into the school's hall of fame.

Barkley will be challenged to prove so many wrong in the NFL. Thoughts of being picked in the fourth round will be a source of strength.

I believe he will succeed.

Copyright © 2019, Daily Pilot
EDITION: California | U.S. & World