Matt Barkley was supposed to be the next big thing. He was supposed to dominate. He was supposed to be the star.
He was supposed to.
It hasn’t quite played out that way for the former USC star who is currently battling for his NFL-life with the Philadelphia Eagles. Still, the 24-year-old is determined to prove himself, anxious to maintain his roster spot and his job. He’ll get that chance during the preseason and you can bet that Barkley won’t waste this opportunity. Here’s what you need to know about Barkley, his family and his faith:
1. Barkley Played High School Football at Mater Dei High School in California
The Newport Beach native’s football career began with a bang when he became the first freshman quarterback to start at Mater Dei High School since Todd Marinovich. That season Barkley passed for 1,686 yards and 10 touchdowns before a broken collar bone sidelined him.
Barkley was a leader from the get-go, calling his own plays on the field and, in his first three high school seasons, he threw for 6,994 yards and 57 touchdowns. He was named the football Gatorade National Player of the Year and the Gatorade national male athlete of the year in 2007.
On January 23, 2008 Barkley verbally committed to USC, making his decision official more than a year before his national signing day. Coming out of high school, he was rated as the top quarterback prospect in the country and was a five-star recruit.
2. He Took Over as the USC Starter When Mark Sanchez Was Drafted
Barkley graduated early from high school so that he could participate in winter workouts at USC and he was named the Trojans starter on August 27, 2009. He was the first true freshman to ever start a season opener for USC and the first freshman to start an opener for a top-five team since 1975.
Barkley described the moment after the announcement, saying:
It’s a dream come true. I was speechless when Coach told me and I was so happy at the same time. But it really is an honor and I know I have to live up to it. I walked into Coach Carroll’s office and he said, ‘Congratulations, you’re the starter for San Jose State.’ I was stoked.
After three solid seasons, many expected Barkley to depart USC early and declare for the 2012 draft. He didn’t. Instead, in his own personal way, he informed head coach Lane Kiffin that he planned to return to the team with a handmade Christmas ornament that read “One more year.”
3. Barkley Was Selected in the Fourth Round of the 2013 Draft
Barkley’s senior season did not go according to plan. A Heisman favorite in the preseason, Barkley and the Trojans suffered an early miscue with a loss to then-No. 21 Stanford in the opening weeks of the season, dropping them out of BCS championship contention.
USC lost five games that year, including the first loss to UCLA in six years. Barkley was knocked out of that game with a sprained right shoulder, ending his senior campaign and his college career.
The injury not only shortened Barkley’s college career, it also hurt his draft stock and kept him from throwing in the NFL Scouting Combine. One considered a top-10 pick, Barkley dropped into the fourth round and was selected by the Philadelphia Eagles with the 98th overall pick.
4. He is Very Religious & Regularly Performs Service Work
Barkley has frequently discussed his faith and the impact it has had throughout his career. He has also made sure to use that faith to help others and regularly makes service trips across the world.
In 2008, during the Christmas holiday, Barkley went with a group of friends and family to help run an orphanage in South Africa. He spent his Christmas break in 2010 in Nigeria helping to rebuild a small town and, in 2012, led a group of 16 USC teammates to Haiti to rebuild houses and schools.
Barkley also appears on I Am Second, sharing his story of his relationship with faith and Jesus Christ.
5. Barkley Married His High School Sweetheart, Brittany Langdon, in 2013
The pair, who had known each other since they were in preschool, tied the knot in 2013 and announced, via Twitter, that they were expecting their first child together in 2014
Brittany was a standout athlete in her own right, playing college soccer at Seattle Pacific from 2009-12. Now, however, she’s settled into a more supportive role when it comes to athletics, saying:
My role is just supporting him and loving him just as any wife would do for her husband – and not getting too caught up in football. It was a whirlwind – graduating, getting married, and moving in the same month. It has been a blast. We absolutely love being on the East Coast, and being by ourselves as newlyweds. We’re just kind of making our own little family routine. God has provided us with lots of friends in and out of football, and we have a great church.
The couple welcomed their son, John, earlier this year.