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Will Matt Barkley surpass Tim Tebow in popularity?

Barkley

The Green Bay Packers may be America's favorite NFL team, but Tim Tebow seems to be its most talked about player.

When the Denver Broncos quarterback fell to a knee and prayed after a victory in October, his intimate moment with God got assigned a verb, Tebowing, and has since been emulated worldwide.

The movement has become so viral that about a week ago, four high school students were suspended for Tebowing at school, apparently because dozens of other students joined the prayer session, which in turn jammed hallways.

Tebow has become a household name for salvaging the Broncos season and is also well-respected -- and often parodied -- for his public displays of his faith.

However, in two years Tebow may have some competition as a fan favorite.

USC quarterback Matt Barkley is being celebrated with an almost religious zeal after announcing Thursday that he would remain a Trojan for another season, forgoing an opportunity to be drafted in the first round of the NFL and receive a multimillion dollar payday. 

Forget Ferris Bueller, hail Barkley!

Barkley could even possibly bring USC a Heisman Trophy and a national championship next year while leading the team out of its dark, bowl-ban days. In his speech at Heritage Hall, The Times' Bill Plaschke noted that his words sounded like Tebow's when the former Florida quarterback gave his famous "Promise Speech" that led the Gators to the 2008 national title.

Said Barkley: "I am prepared to play quarterback in the NFL, it is my dream to play quarterback in the NFL, and I intend to make that dream a reality. But I also know that I came to USC to compete and have a rare journey as a USC football player, earn a degree from this exceptional university and forge lifelong bonds with the Trojan family."

Like Tebow, Barkley is also deeply religious. In 2008, instead of partying with his friends during a break, he went with his family to Africa on a mission. 

With Barkley's current momentum, will the college quarterback surpass Tebow in popularity when he reaches the pro ranks? Instead of getting kids suspended will he get them kicked out of school?

Surely they'd both agree that it's in God's hands.

MORE:

Matt Barkley will return to USC for senior season

Floyd Mayweather Jr. is sentenced to 90 days in jail

T.J. Simers: Even with Kobe Bryant, Lakers' status is questionable

-- Melissa Rohlin

Photo: Matt Barkley. Credit: Luis Sinco/Los Angeles Times

 
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