Thursday, December 22, 2011

College life vs. NFL millions

A developing trend has been taking place in big time college football lately. Highly touted NFL ready quarterbacks are actually taking the term "student athlete", seriously. For the second consecutive year, a signal caller from the Left Coast has decided to return to school for his final year of eligibility. Stanford's Andrew Luck shocked nearly everyone last season by announcing he was returning for his senior season. Although he didn't achieve his personal goals of a PAC-10 championship, potential National Championship, and the coveted Heisman Trophy, Luck still had an outstanding season. This year, he finished the regular season with 3,170 yards passing, 35 TD's to just nine interceptions and completed 70% of his passes. He made several All-American teams and for the second consecutive year finished as the runner-up for the Heisman. Most scouts and analysts have him pegged as the No. 1 overall player and think he'll more than likely be the No. 1 pick in the 2012 draft. USC's Matt Barkley looks to duplicate the success of Luck... or perhaps top it next season, as he announced today that he'd be returning for his final season with the Trojans. This surprised many, as Barkley actually bested Luck's number this season, passing for 3,528 yards and 39 touchdowns and could've entered the draft, himself. He gained a lot of attention from the professional ranks during a head-to-head duel vs. Luck, as his Trojans battled Stanford in one of the most exciting games of the year. They fell just short, losing 56-48 in three overtimes vs. Stanford. Even with the loss, Barkley showed great poise and provided a glimpe of what USC could be in the future. The future began today with his decision to remain in school. The Trojans will definitely be ranked as one of the top five teams in the country and Barkley might be the front runner for the Heisman. All of these potential accomplishments sound wonderful. But what sounded better to me was how he spoke with confidence during his press conference. He spoke of the "unfinished business" his team had to take care of, as USC will be bowl eligible for the first time next season in three years. He also spoke of graduating, something he mentioned would take place even if he did declare his entry in the draft. You couldn't help but walk away impressed by the young man and his commitment to his education, his school, and his team. He frequently speaks to youth about the importance of academics and is a devout Christian. He also went on a trip with friends and family during one Christmas holiday to help run an orphanage in South Africa. Clearly the kid gets it. He realizes that there's things more important in life than football. Not only does he enjoy being an athlete but he also enjoys being a student and a leader in his community and beyond. And who said young people can't be responsible?

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