Coach Lane Kiffin announced Thursday that the senior quarterback won’t play in the Sun Bowl against Georgia Tech because of an injured shoulder. Instead, redshirt freshman Max Wittek will make his second career start.
Barkley’s throwing shoulder was injured during USC’s second-to-last game against UCLA and he didn’t play in the season-finale against Notre Dame. Wittek started the game and the Trojans lost to the Fighting Irish to fall to 7-5 on the season.
Barkley was a celebrated recruit when he arrived at USC and won the starting job as a freshman in 2009. He went on to rewrite the Pac-12 record book during a USC-record 47 starts over four seasons, becoming the conference leader in touchdown passes, yards passing, completions and total offense.
But so much more was expected from him and the Trojans this season, when Barkley announced last January that he would return for his senior year.
Coming off a 10-2 season, and out of a two-year stay in NCAA jail for rules violations, USC started this season ranked No. 1 and a consensus national title contender. Barkley was the Heisman Trophy favorite and an almost certain high first-round NFL draft pick.
Neither he nor the Trojans could reach those high expectations.
Barkley was not bad. He threw for 3,273 yards in 11 games and 36 touchdowns. But he also threw 15 interceptions, the most since his freshman season.
The Southern California native will end his career having played in the postseason just once. He led USC to a victory against Boston College in the Emerald Bowl in 2009 as a freshman.