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December 22, 2011

Barkley's return to USC keeps Trojans rolling


Over the past 24 hours, Trojan football fans have been on quite the ride, signing four early enrollees and learning that the "Super-7s" would stay at USC for a run at a twelfth national title.

For a program that has suffered through a couple of trying off seasons with horrible sanctions and failed appeals, Wednesday's onrush of good news was just what the Trojans were looking for.

Lane Kiffin talked about taking 5-6 guys during the early signing period and he did just that, signing two high school players in Norco (Calif.) linebacker Scott Starr and Santa Monica (Calif.) offensive lineman Chad Wheeler and two junior college players in Pierce College safety Gerald Bowman and Diablo Valley Junior College defensive end Morgan Breslin.

Starr and Wheeler have been committed for a while so their signings were no surprise. But bringing in these high school standouts now frees up a couple of scholarships for Kiffin in February for his sanctioned-limited class of 15.

Corona (Calif.) defensive end DeVante Wilson will essentially count as one of the early enrollees after signing his LOI in February and then grayshirting. Wilson's LOI is still binding so there was no need to resign during this period.

The biggest shock on Wednesday, especially for new UCLA head coach Jim L. Mora, was the last minute switch for Morgan Breslin from the Bruins to the Trojans. Breslin took a stealth visit to USC over the weekend, received an offer and committed.

Breslin led the state junior colleges in sacks and tackles for losses the past 2 seasons and could come in an contribute right away for USC.

Gerald Bowman was down to Miami, Oklahoma and USC and some felt that his desire for early playing time could have been a roadblock for the Trojans. But in the end, Bowman wanted that private school education which put the Trojans over the top.

But with Bowman coming on board, did he know something about the future plans of USC junior standout safety T.J. McDonald? Bowman's signing led some to believe that McDonald must be jumping ship for the NFL like his teammates Matt Kalil and Nick Perry before him.

That rumor didn't take long to be squashed. Less than four hours later USC sent out a press release that McDonald was returning for his senior season.

Kiffin has locked up the first half of his "Super-7s" with just quarterback Matt Barkley left to decide (and we wouldn't have to wait long).

Thursday afternoon Barkley held a press conference in Heritage Hall and gave USC fans an early Christmas present, declaring that he would come back for his senior season and make a run for the Heisman Trophy and the national championship.

With his decision to return, Barkley will likely rewrite all of the USC record books for quarterbacks and get a chance to play in his first BCS Bowl.

The events over the past two days have kept the momentum going that Kiffin built up from his surprise 10-2 season and No. 5 ranking in the AP poll.

It certainly takes the sting out of being forbidden from playing in a bowl game and sets the stage for what should be a tremendous, albeit with limited scholarships, 2012 Signing Day.

Ryan Abraham is the publisher of USCFootball.com. You can email him at ryan@uscfootball.com or follow him on twitter at @insidetroy.


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