By Joseph Santoliquito
Philadelphia, PA (CBS) —He always had that air about him. That cool, sophisticated confidence that has a way of permeating everyone around him and makes them believe they could do things that they’re not supposed to do. It’s what always made Matt Barkley who he is.
He had it when he became the first freshman to start at prestigious Mater Dei High School, in Santa Ana, California since Todd Marinovich. That aura followed him to USC, where he smashed passing records and obviously caught the attention of one opposing coach, now new Eagles’ coach, Chip Kelly.
The confidence Barkley had then was displayed well on Monday, when he spoke to the gathered media during the first day of training camp. If you think it’s a two-man war between Michael Vick and Nick Foles as the Eagles’ starting quarterback in 2013, think again.
There’s a new consideration.
“There is an open competition,” said Barkley, the Eagles’ fourth-round pick out of USC. “I absolutely feel like I’ve got to be a part of it. I’ve got to challenge myself, just like any other guy on the team. Your mindset has to be that you’re in the race to start. You’ve got to have that mindset. I’m in a competition regardless of what everyone else is saying. You just have to practice that way, of always trying to compete.”
How about Vick and Foles, and the fact that you’re a rookie?
“I couldn’t care less about what people are talking about,” Barkley said dismissively. “I don’t listen to that. I feel like I’m part of that race, whether people are saying that or not.”
Eagles general manager Howie Roseman certainly isn’t dismissing Barkley’s chances at starting.
“He gets the ball out very quickly, he’s a distributor,” Roseman said about Barkley. “He’s like a really good point guard in basketball. He knows where to go with the football and makes good decisions, and he’s going to continue to grow and get better.”
“We try to keep an open mind about everyone on our roster. You have to be open to surprises. You can’t just watch the tape looking for certain guys because you may miss something. You may miss a guy who’s really performing at a high level who steps up to the competition.”
It’s something Barkley has always done ever since he touched a football. He seemed destined for this role—and to be drafted by Kelly says he could be the Eagles’ future. Barkley wasn’t thinking about the future on Monday. He was firmly entrenched in the present.
“You just have to prove every snap that you’re capable of playing on this level,” Barkley said. “Regardless of what team you’re on, make the most out of every rep.”
Joseph Santoliquito is a contributing sports blogger for CBS Philly.