This past college football season didn't go as planned for USC quarterback Matt Barkley.
• He spurned a top 10 slot in the NFL draft to return for his senior season and a chance at a national title.
• He sprained his shoulder in November and the Trojans stumbled to a 7-5 record.
• And he had to deal with a report that a brawl about his toughness took place in the team's locker room following the Sun Bowl loss to Georgia Tech.
But Barkley has relied on his faith to help him through these times and prepare for this spring's NFL draft.
"I've been fortunate to hang onto my faith in the troubled waters here at USC," said Barkley, whom ESPN is not projecting to go in the first round. "A lot of people are freaking out about a lot of things, but I know there are more important things in life than just football."
That kind of maturity is what Barkley is hoping will help him at the next level. He's trying to turn negatives into positives.
"I think I've been blessed by gaining a perspective," he said. "As much as I love football and have a passion for the game, striving to be the best, I do realize it will end one day. There is a bigger picture."
Barkley is working this week with Pizza Hut on a campaign to allow fans to upload videos of their best quarterback call -- "Hut. Hut. Hut." -- with a chance of appearing on a TV commercial during Super Bowl week.
"In high school, I had all these cadences where I would mix and match color with city or team names. Brown-Pittsburgh! Green-Hawk!" said Barkley, who played at Mater Dei High School in Santa Ana, Calif. "I would hope people would be very creative. There are a lot of interesting ways to snap the ball."
Barkley, 6-foot-2 and 230 pounds, is watching what he eats to prepare for the NFL combine in February, but he does have a favorite pizza.
"It's a unique flavor: Cheese pizza with Italian sausage and black olives," he said. "It's not very popular, but it's delectable."