Andrew Luck gets it.
This is what everyone you ask seems to say about the Stanford quarterback, and that was my first impression as well after I asked Luck some questions for the first time Friday.
The redshirt sophomore will likely be the No.1 pick in the 2011 NFL draft if he chooses to come out early. That’s what Carolina Panther fans are hoping for, of course, but Luck made no indication which way he was leaning on that huge decision that must be made by Jan.15th.
“It’s not a forbidden topic or anything, but I really am trying to avoid thinking about it until after this game,” Luck said, speaking of No.5 Stanford’s Monday night Orange Bowl showdown against No.13 Virginia Tech.
I was seeing Luck in person for the first time Friday, and he struck me as both humble and whip-smart. As far as his physical presence, he’s an absolute hulk compared to, say, Jimmy Clausen. At 6-foot-4 and 235 pounds, Luck has the size that NFL scouts crave. He also has an arm that one longtime observer of the Stanford football program calls “as good as John Elway’s when he was in college there.”
Luck didn’t shy away from “Will you stay or go?” questions at his news conference in Fort Lauderdale Friday and later in a smaller gathering with several reporters that included me. But he didn’t say much about the decision either.
“It’s a big life decision, and I better put some thought into it,” Luck said.
Luck does sound like he truly enjoys the college experience – he carries a 3.5 grade-point average in his architectural design major. He is also a big fan of the other Stanford athletic teams, staying up to watch Stanford’s women’s basketball team upset Connecticut and ended its 90-game win streak Thursday night.
He said of Stanford coach Jim Harbaugh’s similar stay-or-go decision on his own choice: “Obviously, it will be a factor.” But Luck wouldn’t rule out staying at Stanford even if Harbaugh leaves for a college or NFL job.
Mostly, though, Luck sounded focused on Virginia Tech. He seemed totally unaware that New Year’s Eve is tonight, for instance – or that the fervent wish of many Panther fans as the New Year approaches is that they will get Luck-y in 2011.
My extensive story on Luck, his background and his upcoming decision will appear in Sunday’s Observer and online.