Los Angeles, CA – When Matt Barkley announced a year ago that he would return for his senior season at USC, he said the desire to play in another bowl game factored into his decision.
Now he officially won't have that chance.
Trojans head coach Lane Kiffin announced on Thursday that Barkley will not play in the Dec. 31 Sun Bowl due to a sprained right throwing shoulder, with redshirt freshman Max Wittek slated to handle quarterbacking duties in his place.
Barkley suffered the injury during the Trojans' 38-28 loss at crosstown rival UCLA on Nov. 17 and sat out the team's regular-season finale against No. 1 Notre Dame as a result. Wittek also drew the start against the Fighting Irish and threw two interceptions in USC's 22-13 setback.
Kiffin said that Barkley was not medically cleared by team doctors in time to return for the Trojans' upcoming matchup against Georgia Tech in El Paso, TX.
"I've worked as hard as I could to get back for this game, and nature is not allowing it," said Barkley on Thursday.
The announcement ends what has been a disappointing season for both Barkley and the Trojans, who began the year ranked atop the national polls but dropped four of their final five games en route to a 7-5 overall finish. The preseason Heisman Trophy candidate did throw for 3,273 yards and 36 touchdowns while completing over 63 percent of his passes in 11 start, but was intercepted a career-high 15 times as well.
Barkley is still considered to be one of the top quarterback prospects for the 2013 NFL Draft and has been invited to participate in the Jan. 26 Senior Bowl in Mobile, AL. He has yet to make a decision as to whether he play in that game.
The 22-year-old concludes his playing career with the Trojans having competed in only one postseason contest, the 2009 Emerald Bowl during his freshman campaign. USC was ineligible for bowl games in each of the past two seasons as penalty for multiple rules violations under former head coach Pete Carroll from 2004-05, with the Trojans also forced to vacate their 2004 BCS national championship title under the NCAA's ruling.