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January 5, 2009

Barkley moves on to next level with MVP effort

ORLANDO, Fla. − Santa Ana (Calif.) Mater Dei quarterback Matt Barkley entered the 2009 Under Armour All-America Game with a lot of expectations.

The five-star quarterback matched and exceeded those expectations with his performance and earned Most Valuable Player honors.

"It means a lot," Barkley said of being named MVP. "I didn't have in mind to be MVP. I just came out here to compete and do my best. If this comes with it, then that is all good."

Barkley, who was 11-of-22 passing for 237 yards and two touchdowns, quickly shared the honor with his teammates by praising the White team offensive line that helped him lead the team to a 27-16 victory.

"I had time," Barkley said. "I thought I had a great line. I had time to get the ball out. I was just having fun out there."

His wide receivers also helped him out by doing their job after the catch. On the White team's first offensive play, Barkley hooked up with Marlon Brown on a short slant. The Memphis (Tenn.) Harding Academy product did the rest, taking the pass 71 yards for a touchdown.

"It got us pumped up," Barkley said. "t was just a slant. I think that helped carry us through the rest of the game."

Barkley would strike again in the first half, when he hooked up with Mayo (Fla.) Lafayette athlete Jamal Reid in the second quarter for a 35-yard touchdown pass.

"You know if you throw it up there you are giving them a chance," Barkley said. "They made some great plays tonight."

Most of all, though, the USC commitment said that the time he spent in Orlando, Fla., practicing with his teammates and competing against the other team was all about creating friendships that will last a lifetime. If it was up to him, his time in Orlando wouldn't end.

"It was all about fun. I was having fun tonight," Barkley said. "It has been a great week to hang out with all these guys and to get to know some of these athletes and to establish relationships with them that will grow in the future."

Now Barkley will depart Disney World and travel to Disney Land as he takes his game to USC. He expects to arrive on campus in a week. At this time, he isn't sure if he will be competing against Mark Sanchez or following the USC starting quarterback's NFL draft status.

"We knew all along that whatever he does is going to put me in a situation where I will be able to compete, whether it is for a starting position or backup," Barkley said. "I am looking forward to it either way."

Before Barkley arrives on campus, though, he will be able to look back on his outstanding performance in the final game of his high school career.


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