Matthew Montgomery Barkley (born September 8, 1990) is an American football quarterback for the Arizona Cardinals of the National Football League (NFL). He played college football at USC, and was drafted by the Philadelphia Eagles in the fourth round of the 2013 NFL Draft. Barkley has also played for the Chicago Bears, and San Francisco 49ers.
Barkley was born in Newport Beach, California, and attended Mater Dei High School in Santa Ana. In 2005, he became the first freshman quarterback to start at Mater Dei since Todd Marinovich. As a freshman, he passed for 1,685 yards and 10 touchdowns, but suffered a season-ending injury (broken collarbone) during the playoffs in a quarterfinal win over Colton High School. The injury was caused by future USC teammate, running back Allen Bradford, who played linebacker in high school.
His high school coach, Bruce Rollinson, permitted him to call his own plays, something he had never allowed a player to do during two decades at Mater Dei. As a sophomore, he passed for 1,349 yards and 11 touchdowns in 2006. Barkley passed for 3,576 yards and 35 touchdowns in 2007, completing 63 percent of his passes with nine interceptions. In three seasons, he passed for 6,994 yards and 57 touchdowns.
Barkley was named 2007 football Gatorade National Player of the Year, and then the 2007 Gatorade national male athlete of the year, becoming the first non-senior to win both awards. Barkley also won the 2007 Glenn Davis Award, given to the best high school football player in Southern California, and the inaugural Joe Montana Award as the nation's top high school quarterback.
Barkley was rated as the top prospect in the nation for the Class of 2009 by ESPN. He was rated the top prospect by Rivals.com. Quarterback coach Steve Clarkson described Barkley as a cross between Joe Montana and Tom Brady.
As a top high school player, he was heavily recruited. On January 23, 2008, Barkley verbally committed to USC, ending speculation that he might join UCLA, which had just hired coaches Rick Neuheisel and Norm Chow. Barkley's father, Les Barkley, was an All-American water polo player at USC from 1976 to 1979. He made his decision more than a year before his National Signing Day, telling his family and coaches and then calling USC coach Pete Carroll on his cell phone. The previous quarterback to go to USC from Mater Dei was Heisman Trophy-winner Matt Leinart (the school had also graduated fellow Heisman winner John Huarte). After committing to USC, Barkley began recruiting other elite high school players to join him.
His 2008 senior season started slow, with Barkley throwing nearly as many interceptions as touchdown passes and the Monarchs barely keeping above .500; however his performance turned around and Mater Dei rallied to 7–3 and entered the playoffs. The Monarchs made it to the quarterfinal, falling to Tesoro High School and ending the season 8–4. Barkley finished his Mater Dei High School career as the all-time passing yardage leader in Orange County, surpassing the record set by Todd Marinovich in 1987. He graduated from high school on December 18, 2008.
On January 4, 2009, Barkley participated in the 2009 Under Armour All-America Game at the Florida Citrus Bowl. After a strong performance, where he completed 11-of-22 passes for 237 yards and two touchdowns and led the White team to a 27–16 victory over the Black team, he was named the game's co-MVP. Soon afterward, he was moved back to the number one high school prospect in America by ESPN, having dropped to tenth during his senior season.
|Name||Hometown||High school / college||Height||Weight||40‡||Commit date|
|Santa Ana, California||Mater Dei High School||6 ft 3 in (1.91 m)||226 lb (103 kg)||4.7||Jan 23, 2008|
|Recruiting star ratings: Scout: Rivals: 247Sports: N/A ESPN grade: 93|
|Overall recruiting rankings: Scout: 1 (QB) Rivals: 1 (QB), 5 (National), 1 (CAL) ESPN: 1 (National), 1 (QB)|
After graduating from high school a semester early, Barkley enrolled in the University of Southern California in January 2009 so he could participate in spring practice with the USC Trojans football team. He would play for the Trojans for the next four seasons, from 2009 to 2012.
With the early departure of the Trojans' previous starting quarterback, Mark Sanchez, for the NFL, and with no clear successor, a three-way quarterback battle emerged during spring practices between Barkley and quarterbacks Aaron Corp and Mitch Mustain, both of whom had held the second quarterback spot at various times throughout the season; the latter had been the starting quarterback at Arkansas for eight games in 2006.
He adapted to the Trojans offense and gave strong performances during spring practices: trying for and making big plays but also throwing several key interceptions. Impressing his coaches, Barkley climbed to the number two spot at the end of Spring behind Corp. Afterward, ESPN NFL Draft analyst Mel Kiper Jr. stated he believed that in "three years Matt Barkley—who will be a true freshman this year—will be the No. 1 pick in the draft."
On August 27, during fall practices, Carroll named Barkley the starter for the 2009 season opener against San Jose State. He is the first true freshman quarterback to ever start an opener for the Trojans, and the first true freshman to start the opener for a preseason top-five team since Rick Leach did it for No. 3 Michigan in 1975. After a slow first quarter, Barkley finished his college debut 233 yards, throwing 15-for-19 with one touchdown in a 56–3 victory.
His second game brought his first major test and first road game, against the highly ranked Ohio State Buckeyes. Before a sold-out, raucous crowd at Ohio Stadium, Barkley led a game-winning, 86-yard drive late in the fourth quarter, earning significant praise from the sports media.
Barkley suffered a shoulder bruise in the Ohio State game, and had to sit out the following week's game at Washington. With Aaron Corp at the helm, the Trojans struggled in a major upset loss, falling to the unranked Huskies 16–13 while putting up the lowest number of passing yards for a USC team since Carroll took over the program in 2001. Carroll had Barkley, who wasn't fully recovered from his injury, start the next game against Washington State. Barkley contributed to a 27–6 victory, passing for 247 yards and two touchdowns. He followed this up with 282 passing yards in a 30–3 win over California on October 3. The next week against Notre Dame, he was 19 for 29 with 2 TD's. He followed that up with a 15–25 two touchdown game against Oregon State. Against Stanford he threw 3 interceptions and only 1 touchdown. Two weeks later he went 1 touchdown and 1 interception in a 28–7 victory over UCLA. The following week, he also, went 1–1 in a 21–17 loss to Arizona. He closed his freshman season by throwing for 350 yards and 2 touchdowns against Boston College in the 2009 Emerald Bowl.
On September 2, 2010, Barkley led the Trojans to an opening week victory at Hawaii 49–36. Barkley contributed 5 passing touchdowns (3 to wide receiver Ronald Johnson) on 17-of-23 passing for 257 yards. The win marked a successful debut for new USC head coach Lane Kiffin and the first win under USC's 2010 NCAA probation and sanctions. Both teams amassed over 500 yards of total offense. Barkley said, "I'm just trying to be as perfect as I can be. Last week was pretty close, but that perfect game is kind of a goal and that's no completions." Coach Kiffin added, "We'll see if he can continue to do it again. Great quarterbacks put together good games every week." Matt Barkley continued a solid sophomore campaign. With notable performances against Stanford and Cal. Barkley sprained his ankle during a loss to Oregon State and was forced to the sideline for the Notre Dame game. He returned to lead the Trojans to a gutsy 28–14 victory over UCLA.
Barkley began 2011 by setting the USC single-game record for completions with 34 against Minnesota. On October 1, he passed for a USC single-game record for 468 yards. On November 4, he passed for a USC single-game record for touchdowns in a game with 6, against the Colorado Buffaloes, one of the two additions to the Pac-12 in its inaugural season; the game was the first against Colorado since 2002. He had previously tied the single-game touchdown record three times, sharing it with Rodney Peete, Carson Palmer, Matt Leinart and Mark Sanchez. On November 26, against the UCLA Bruins, he tied the single-game touchdown record again in a 50–0 shutout of the Bruins. On national television Barkley stated the best moment of the UCLA game was his pass to his cousin Robbie Boyer. Over the 2011 season, Barkley accumulated 39 touchdowns, an all-time Pac-12 record, and helped end the season with a 10–2 record. Barkley had the 6th most votes for the Heisman Trophy. He finished with a 39–7 touchdown-to-interception ratio while completing 69.1% of his passes. He won the 2011 CFPA National Performer of the Year Trophy with his record breaking season.
On December 22, 2011, at a press conference convened at Heritage Hall, Barkley announced he would return for his senior year with the USC Trojans rather than entering the 2012 NFL Draft. Barkley announced his return to USC in his own unique way by giving Coach Kiffin a homemade ornament for Christmas with a picture of them at the Colorado game, but on the back revealing the text "One more year." Barkley has described his decision to stay at University of Southern California in his senior as "unfinished business", as he wanted to be part of a team that would be aiming for the BCS championship after a two-year postseason ban.
Going into his senior season, Barkley was widely considered a favorite to win the Heisman Trophy. At the beginning of the season, USC was ranked #1 in the preseason poll, but a 21–14 loss to then-#21 Stanford ended USC's potential BCS national championship run. USC then went on to lose 5 games that year, including a late-season loss to rival UCLA for the first time in six years. Matt Barkley was knocked out of that game by UCLA's Anthony Barr with a shoulder separating hit, thus ending his regular season abruptly. On December 27, 2012, head coach Lane Kiffin announced Barkley wouldn't play in the Sun Bowl because of his shoulder injury, effectively ending his college football career.
Although being projected a first round selection for the 2012 NFL Draft by midseason of 2011, Barkley then decided to return to USC for his senior season. As early as April 2012, he was projected the No. 1 overall pick for the 2013 NFL Draft. However, one month prior to the draft, Barkley's draft stock had fallen with ESPN draft analysts Mel Kiper Jr. and Todd McShay projecting Barkley to fall out of the first round. Due to his shoulder injury, Barkley did not throw in the Indianapolis NFL Scouting Combine and instead took medical tests on his shoulder.
|Ht||Wt||40‑yd dash||10-yd split||20-yd split||20‑ss||3‑cone||Vert jump||Broad|
|6 ft 2 in|
|4.90 s||1.75 s||2.85 s||4.58 s|
|All values from USC Pro Day|
Going into training camp, it was announced that Barkley would be given a chance to compete for the starting quarterback job, facing off against the two starting quarterbacks from the previous season, Nick Foles and Michael Vick. On October 20, 2013, he saw his first NFL action against the Dallas Cowboys as he came into relief for Nick Foles, who left early in the fourth quarter due to a head injury. In that game, Barkley completed 11 of his 20 pass attempts for 129 yards and threw 3 interceptions.
Barkley's second game came the following week in relief of Foles (concussion) and Vick (quadriceps) on October 27 versus the New York Giants. Barkley completed 17 of 26 passes for 158 yards, no touchdowns, 1 interception and 1 fumble inside their red zone.
The Eagles traded Barkley to the Arizona Cardinals for a conditional seventh-round pick in the 2016 NFL Draft on September 4, 2015. The terms said that he needed to be on the roster for 6 games, which were fulfilled on October 17, 2015. On September 3, 2016, Barkley was released by the Cardinals.
Following an injury to the Bears' backup quarterback Brian Hoyer against the Green Bay Packers on October 20, Barkley made his first NFL appearance as a member of the Chicago Bears, going 6 of 15 for 81 yards; he threw for zero touchdowns and two interceptions. After Jay Cutler suffered a shoulder injury against the Giants, Barkley started the following week's game against the Tennessee Titans. Barkley completed 28 of 54 passes for 316 yards with three touchdowns, two interceptions, and a 72.8 passer rating, nearly rallying the Bears from a 20-point deficit in the fourth quarter before losing 27–21. Barkley earned his first NFL win the very next week on December 4, a 26–6 win over the San Francisco 49ers at Soldier Field. This was the Bears' third and last victory of the season. He completed 11 for 18 passes for 192 yards, no touchdowns, no interceptions, and a 97.5 passer rating.
On December 18, Barkley completed 30 passes for 362 yards, two touchdowns and three interceptions as the Bears nearly upset the Green Bay Packers, ultimately losing 30–27 on a last-second field goal. It was the most yards by a Bears quarterback in a game against Green Bay in the rivalry's history.
Barkley struggled in the following week's game against the Washington Redskins, a 41–21 loss; although he threw for 323 yards and two touchdown passes, he also threw five interceptions, including on four consecutive drives in the second half. The five interceptions were the most by a Bears quarterback since Cutler threw five in 2009.
In Week 17, Barkley caught a touchdown from wide receiver Cameron Meredith on a trick play; while Barkley was calling at the line of scrimmage, the ball was snapped to running back Jeremy Langford, who handed it off to Meredith before throwing it to a wide-open Barkley for the touchdown. He ended the 2016 season with eight touchdown passes and 14 interceptions. Of his 216 pass attempts, 89 went for a first down (41.2 percent), the second-highest percentage in the NFL behind the Atlanta Falcons' Matt Ryan (44.6).
San Francisco 49ers
On March 10, 2017, Barkley signed a two-year contract with the San Francisco 49ers. On September 1, 2017, he was released by the 49ers at the end of the preseason. He was beaten out by veteran Brian Hoyer and rookie C.J. Beathard.
Barkley is a Christian. During Christmas 2008, Barkley went with a group of friends and family to help run an orphanage in South Africa. For Christmas 2010, he spent his winter break in Nigeria "visiting orphans, widows, villagers and prisoners, doing construction work, distributing supplies and gifts and sharing daily fellowship." In 2012, Barkley led a group of 16 USC football teammates to Haiti, where they built houses and delivered more than 2,000 pounds of supplies for orphanages and schools. He appears on I Am Second, sharing the story of his Christian faith and personal relationship with Jesus Christ. At the beginning of his USC career, Barkley befriended former USC Olympian, World War II prisoner of war and inspirational speaker, Louis Zamperini.
Barkley married his high school sweetheart Brittany Langdon, a year after he graduated USC, in July 2013. In December 2014, she announced via Twitter she was pregnant. Their son was born in June 2015.