Ranking the Pac-10's top 25: No. 21

Our countdown of the Pac-10's top 25 players continues.

No. 21. Matt Barkley, QB, USC

2009 numbers: Barkley ranked third in the conference in passing efficiency, completing nearly 60 percent of his passes. Despite missing one game due to injury, he passed for 2,735 yards and 15 touchdowns. The only downer was 14 interceptions, which led the conference.

Most recent ranking: Barkley wasn't ranked in our final Pac-10 top-30 list last year.

Making the case for Barkley: Doesn't it seem like we've been talking about Barkley for years? Well, that often obscures the fact that he was the starting quarterback at USC -- the premier post in college football -- as a true freshman. Moreover, despite his inconsistency last year, which was aggravated by the often bizarre determination of former coach Pete Carroll to excuse Barkley's every misstep, he mostly played well and often flashed signs of spectacular ability. New coach Lane Kiffin worked wonders with Jonathan Crompton at Tennessee, and his leadership of the offense figures to be a significant upgrade from the meandering stewardship of Jeremy Bates. After a mostly spectacular spring, Barkley could emerge to challenge Washington's Jake Locker and Stanford's Andrew Luck as the conference's premier QB.

No. 22. Owen Marecic, LB/FB, Stanford

No. 23. Kristofer O'Dowd, C, USC

No. 24: Casey Matthews, LB, Oregon

No. 25 Kai Forbath, K, UCLA