Matt Barkley not a Heisman finalist
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Barkley, a junior, finished the season on a fierce run that netted him some consideration for the award that goes to the nation's top player each year.
He threw 10 touchdown passes in the Trojans' final two games to finish the year with a school- and conference-record 39 scoring throws, and added 3,528 passing yards and just seven interceptions in leading USC to a 10-2 record and top-five finish in The Associated Press poll.
Selected to go to New York City for Saturday's ceremony were Baylor Bears quarterback Robert Griffin III, Stanford Cardinal quarterback Andrew Luck, LSU Tigers corner back Tyrann Mathieu, Alabama Crimson Tide running back Trent Richardson and Wisconsin Badgers running back Montee Ball. All five finalists are eligible to return for another season in 2012, although Luck has stated he will make himself eligible for the 2012 NFL draft.
"Congratulations to all the Heisman finalists," Barkley said in a statement released by the school. "They are all great players, and I wish them the best this Saturday and with the rest of their football careers. I thought we gave it a good run this year to get an invitation to New York for the ceremony, but more importantly I am really excited that our team's accomplishments are being recognized and we have now moved up to fifth in the rankings."
Last week, in a studio appearance on "SportsCenter," Barkley said he would be "pretty disappointed" if he wasn't chosen among the three to five finalists for the award, citing his season statistics, which appear better than Luck's and comparable to Griffin's. He did cite the Trojans' unexpectedly good 2011 performance as a silver lining.
"Just looking at numbers, it'll be interesting what happens with that come next week," Barkley said last week. "But I think we put forth our best foot in terms of the striking performances throughout the year and against big teams like going up to Oregon and beating them. And finishing out 50-0 against UCLA. Things like that."
Barkley has until Jan. 15 to declare himself eligible for the NFL draft and until Jan. 18 to withdraw his name if he does declare. He is waiting to hear back from the NFL on his request for a pre-draft evaluation.
While he won't have a shot at winning the Heisman, Barkley was recognized later Monday night as he was named the Trojans' Most Valuable Player at a team awards banquet.
Other 2011 award-winners for USC included senior defensive tackle Christian Tupou as most inspirational player and junior left tackle Matt Kalil and junior defensive end Nick Perry as the offensive and defensive linemen of the year.
Pedro Moura is co-author of the USC blog on ESPNLosAngeles.com. Follow him on Twitter.
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