SBJ/December 5-11, 2011/Labor and Agents

USC’s Barkley improves draft status, considers turning pro

Liz Mullen
USC quarterback Matt Barkley, expected to be a top pick in next year’s NFL draft if he makes himself available, will start meeting with sports industry experts this week to help him make that decision, his father said.

“Matt has not even begun his contemplation on whether he is declaring for the draft or staying at USC,” Les Barkley said in a brief telephone interview last week. “He has until the middle of January to make that decision.”

Jan. 15 is the deadline for underclassmen to declare for next year’s draft.

USC’s Matt Barkley will be conducting research about entering the 2012 NFL draft.
Photo by: GETTY IMAGES
Barkley did, however, say that his son would have “discussions with people in the industry” starting this week to help him decide whether to enter the 2012 draft or return to USC. He would not elaborate on who or what type of people his son would consult with, but he said his son “will talk with various people about what it means to be a professional football player.”

Barkley declined to comment on the subject of agents and what agent or agents his son might choose if he does decide to turn pro.

Should he opt to leave school, Matt Barkley could be one of the first players to sign with an agent this year. Barkley is a “true junior,” having played all three of his college years since graduating from high school, and USC has completed its season. The Trojans are not eligible to play in a bowl game because of NCAA sanctions.

Under the NFL Players Association’s “junior rule” — which prohibits NFLPA-certified agents from talking to true juniors until they have completed their third season — agents can start recruiting juniors after their last regular-season or championship game of that year, or Dec. 1, whichever is later. In Barkley’s case, that means conversations could begin as of last Thursday.

If Stanford quarterback Andrew Luck were not in the mix — Luck is considered the likely top draft pick in 2012 should he declare — Barkley might have been the QB in the spotlight heading into next year’s draft.

“All the attention is on Luck, but in a normal year, Barkley would be generating No. 1 overall consideration,” said Rob Rang, senior draft analyst for NFLDraftScout.com.

Rang said the biggest knocks on Barkley have been that his arm isn’t strong enough and that his performance has been flattered by the good players around him at USC, but he added that Barkley improved his draft status in USC’s final games of the season. “He is surrounded by a great deal of talent,” Rang said, “but he is making them play better, and his arm is certainly strong enough to make any NFL throw.”

ASM ADDS CRAWFORD: NBA player agent Andy Miller has signed a number of new clients in recent months, during the league’s lockout, including Atlanta Hawks guard Jamal Crawford. Crawford, who was previously represented by Aaron Goodwin and who interviewed a number of player agents in recent weeks, committed last week to sign with Miller’s ASM Sports Management, Miller confirmed. Edgewater, N.J.-based ASM also has added Milwaukee Bucks center-forward Larry Sanders, free agent guard Roger Mason Jr. and power forward Kenyon Martin, who in September signed a one-year deal to play with the Xinjiang Flying Tigers.

LAGARDÈRE SIGNS SUGGS: Joel Segal of Lagardère Unlimited has signed Baltimore Ravens linebacker Terrell Suggs. The four-time Pro Bowler was previously represented by the late Gary Wichard, who died in March.

IF SIGNS SHARPER, MURPHY FOR BROADCAST WORK: IF Management, a New York-based agency specializing in representation of sports broadcasters, has signed five-time NFL Pro Bowl safety Darren Sharper and two-time MLB National League MVP Dale Murphy for broadcast representation. Agent Gideon Cohen will represent them.

Liz Mullen can be reached at lmullen@sportsbusinessjournal.com. Follow her on Twitter @SBJLizMullen.

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