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|High School:||Stratford HS|
|Luck leaves Stanford as the school's leader in touchdown passes (82), completion percentage (.670), passing efficiency (162.8) and total offense (10,411) — among other marks — despite playing only three seasons.|
|Sources: AP/Univ. of Stanford|
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Updated: Wednesday, 07 Mar 2012, 11:40 AM EST
Published : Thursday, 02 Feb 2012, 10:00 PM EST
PALO ALTO, Calif. (WISH) - The biggest game in football is on Sunday, and much of the focus leading up to the game is on Colts’ quarterback Peyton Manning this week. But it’s another quarterback - Stanford’s Andrew Luck, widely expected to be the top pick in the next NFL draft - who is here working out at the Gatorade Sports Science Institute.
"As a competitor, you always want to be the No. 1 guy, the No. 1 pick" Luck said to 24-Hour News 8 Sports Director Anthony Calhoun, who traveled to California to spend some time with the college quarterback.
It looks like Luck could be just that, and could be calling Indianapolis home after the NFL Draft in April. After the Colts’ dismal season without Manning, Jim Irsay will have the first pick in the draft - the same situation the Colts were in 14 years ago when they picked Manning. Irsay said he's taking a quarterback, just like in 1998, and all signs point to the Colts taking Andrew Luck, a player many experts believe is the next once-in-a-generation quarterback.
Here’s an inside look at the conversation between Luck and Calhoun:
Calhoun: "How do you handle the pressure, knowing these expectations are so high for you?"
Luck: "It's humbling. It's also nice that someone has a good opinion about you, as opposed to a bad one. But I realize that it's just an opinion. It's so easy to get caught up in all of that and forget that preparation is key and understand that preparation is key, put your head down work hard and grind."
Calhoun: “How excited are you to have this opportunity to play at the next level?”
Luck: "Absolutely it's every kids dream. Like, say it was my - I assume it's everyone’s dream - to play in the NFL, and to have it so close, it's really exciting. And also it gives you more motivation to keep your head down and work as hard as you can."
Calhoun: “NFL experts say you are expected to be the No. 1 draft pick. Have you thought about that day, shaking Commissioner Goodell’s hand?
Luck: "As a competitor, you always want to be the No. 1 guy, the No. 1 pick. Hopefully that turns out, and hopefully you can walk across that stage and shake Mr. Goodell’s hand."
And Luck’s hard work has been paying off. Just recently in Los Angeles, he was in the spotlight, walking the red carpet to accept the NFL Players Association Fans Choice Award for best future player. His future is so bright that it begs the question: If Indy is his destiny, is he OK with the possibility of backing up a future hall of famer?
"I think every competitor wants to play, whether you're in first grade doing pee wee football or NFL, whatever that might be,” he said. “Everybody wants to be on the field and wants to be the guy.
“But if that doesn't work out and there's an opportunity to learn from a great, you have to take advantage of the resources around you. I know people smarter than me will make decisions. As for me, I am preparing to play a football season and want to keep my head down and be the best football player I can be."
Luck knows Manning. He actually attended Peyton's Passing Academy. He says that relationship has inspired him.
"[I] remember getting to listen to him talk to bunch of the college quarterbacks a couple of years ago about how he prepares for game,” Luck said. “It was all inspiring and pretty influential."
There are a lot of ways the two quarterbacks compare. Luck in many ways has a style similar to Manning. Their football IQ is very high. Both were runners-up for the Heisman Trophy. Both had fathers who were NFL quarterbacks.
CBS NFL Today analyst and former NFL quarterback Boomer Esiason has said he feels Luck will have big shoes to fill if he comes to Indianapolis.
“Andrew Luck comes from a great family, Esiason said. “He has a great dad. He went to a great college in Stanford. But … they will be asking a guy to come here and replace a guy who's one of the greatest quarterbacks to ever play, and that is a lot of pressure on a young man.”
People who know Luck describe him as the ultimate team player.
"I tell you he will not let you down,” said Pep Hamilton, his quarterback coach at Stanford. “He is going to work extremely hard. He's going to be a great teammate. And he has all the physical tools to be able to be a player in the National Football League and be a good football player for a long time.”
And he reportedly shines the spotlight back on his teammates, sending compliments their way.
"No. 1, (it) was values instilled by our parents, and 2, realizing football is the ultimate team game,” Luck said when asked why. “Nobody is out there by themselves running the whole show. I’m not here without an offensive line, or guys catching balls, or great defense. Realizing that it takes a roster full of guys to be successful.”
He's also a workhorse in the classroom. Luck put off the draft for a year to get his degree in architecture.
When asked why, he replied: "A couple of reasons. One, obviously the education. I didn't want that looming over me in years to come, and why
so close and didn't finished it."
He said his parents taught him to consider education as important as athletics.
But, he said, it also gave him “a chance to prolong growing up for another year. I had fun in college, and … to get to be around your buddies, your teammates, it was a blast.'
The legacy from his parents has helped guide him to where he is today, he said.
“Always respect everybody. That has been their message to all my siblings and myself,” he said. “… Two, keep your head down, and work as hard as you can and control things you can control."
Luck can't control where he is going, but he knows the role he wants to play.
"When you're in a position like an NFL football player, it's very important to give back to the community. First, I think I would like to know which community that will be, but, you know, any time you can help out with developing youth sports, maybe underprivileged areas or Habitat for Humanity or Architecture for Humanity - I studied architecture, so I sort of got involved with that a little bit - definitely those aspects."
Sounds like whatever NFL city Luck ends up in, his impact will be felt on and off the field.
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