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Matt Barkley Will Stay for Senior Season

The junior quarterback announced his decision to stay at a festive press conference at Heritage Hall.

It's the early Christmas gift every Trojan fan wanted.

Matt Barkley will return for his senior season, the junior quarterback announced today in a press conference at Heritage Hall.

"I have firmly decided to forgo the NFL draft in 2012 and finish this exceptional and unique journey I have had at USC," said Barkley. "I have put considerable time, thought, and prayer" into this decision.

Barkley said he came back because he felt is experience at USC was not complete.

"I know in my heart I have not finished my journey as a Trojan football player," Barkley said. "The 2012 team has some unfinished business to attend to, and I intend to play a part in it."

His announcement was met with cheers at Heritage Hall, and the Spirit of Troy began blaring Fight On and Conquest.

Barkley's return means both the Trojan offense and defense will each return nine starters from last season's 10-2 team, including all five skill position starters surrounding Barkley. The two-time Trojan captain talked about how NCAA sanctions only strengthened his determination, referencing "negativity and unfairness."

"It's a special day," said USC coach Lane Kiffin. "It goes to show how special the Trojan family is."

Kiffin went so far as to call Barkley "the perfect Trojan."

Needless to say, Kiffin, the entire program and really the entire campus are elated with Barkley's decision, which came one day after junior safety T.J. McDonald announced he would return and the signing of four highly-touted recruits.

Barkley will return as a preseason Heisman Trophy front-runner, and the Trojans are projected to begin the season as a top-5 team in the polls. Barkley said he met with several coaches at USC, as well as numerous individuals involved with the NFL to gauge his stock.

"I am fully prepared and ready, in all manners to move on to the NFL," Barkley said he was told by those he met with. "I am prepared to play quarterback in the NFL. It is my dream to play quarterback in the NFL. And I will make that dream a reality."

Barkley told Kiffin he was staying at 5 p.m. last night, having the coach flip over a Christmas ornament that said simply, "one more year."

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