Palo Alto Weekly

Sports - December 10, 2010

Win or lose, Luck will enjoy experience

Cardinal QB in New York for Heisman ceremony

by Rick Eymer

Andrew Luck, still months away from his high school graduation, sat with two other prep quarterbacks and listened to Bill Walsh, a special adviser to the Stanford athletic department at the time.

"He was talking about something very specific, throwing while rolling to the left," Luck said. "I thought that was kind of odd at the time. He said you can't throw to a receiver going away from you because the defensive back would always undercut it."

Luck was on his official visit to Stanford at the time and the meeting stayed with him. He still remembers the advice. That may have been the beginning of Luck's transcendence from high school All-American to Heisman Trophy finalist.

Luck joins Auburn's Cam Newton, Oregon's LaMichael James and Boise State's Kellen Moore as finalists for college football's top individual honor.

Luck was named the Pac-10 Offensive Player of the Year on Tuesday.

Luck, and the three other finalists, will be on hand for the televised (ESPN, 5 p.m.) presentation of the Heisman Trophy in New York City on Saturday.

Stanford's two-way starter Owen Marecic (fullback, linebacker) is in New York on Tuesday night for the presentation of the Campbell Award.

"I'm very honored to be here," Marecic said. "To be included with a group of guys like this is something very special and I am humbled by it.

"I'd like to thank my Stanford teammates," he added. "Every day when we show up to work, there's a group of guys who are really pouring themselves into whatever they are doing. It inspires you to give everything you've got as well."

Stanford grad Toby Gerhart, now with the Minnesota Vikings in the NFL, finished second in last year's Heisman Trophy race.

"It speaks volumes to where this program is headed," Luck said. "And it speaks volumes for where the program is. I did call Toby, first to congratulate him on scoring his first NFL touchdown, and then for what to expect. He told me what clothing to bring to New York."

Luck will be joined at the ceremonies by his parents, two younger siblings and Cardinal coach Jim Harbaugh. His younger sister Mary Ellen Luck, a freshman on the Stanford women's volleyball team, will be in Dayton, Ohio for the third and fourth rounds of the NCAA tournament.

Stanford enjoyed a record-setting season with Luck at the helm, who accumulated some sparkling statistics. The one that stands out, though, is the school's 19-5 record when he starts.

Luck could become the 19th Heisman Trophy winner to play in the Orange Bowl when fifth-ranked Stanford (11-1) meets Virginia Tech (11-2) on Monday, Jan. 3 in the BCS game.

After 24 career games, Luck ranks seventh on Stanford's all-time list for passing yardage (5,626) and tied for fifth with Todd Husak with 41 career touchdown passes. He became the fourth Stanford quarterback to throw for more than 3,000 yards in a season.

Luck, who is also on pace to set Stanford single-season records for passing efficiency and completion percentage, will became the seventh Cardinal quarterback to finish among the top seven in balloting, and the first since John Elway finished second in 1982. Jim Plunkett owns the only Heisman Trophy (1970) ever won by a Stanford football player.

"I'd win it for Stanford," said Luck, who plans a visit to the Heisman museum. "If I won the award, I hope it's because I earned it on the field and not for something off the field."

His teammates made him get a haircut, and his mother gave him the go-ahead to buy a new suit. He's not particularly fond of all the attention he's receiving but he understands its part of the position and the team's success.

Luck deftly dodges questions about his future plans and feels there's something special about him and his sister playing on national-championship caliber teams at the same school.

"I don't know if my sister and I realize it right now, but it is special," he said.

It could get even more special after this weekend.

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