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Andrew Luck, Stanford's stellar quarterback, is just one of the guys
"I'm trying to avoid it," said Luck, cringing at the mere mention of his professional career. "I don't want it to get in the way of the team, of our chances in the Orange Bowl. I think if I start thinking about it too much, it'll be a detriment and my head will be in the wrong place. . . . But I guess it's just part of playing quarterback for a major team and being an underclassman. It's part of the gig."
And after completing more than 70 percent of his passes, throwing 28 touchdowns for more than 3,000 yards, and even running over a California defender on a 58-yard-run, the speculation surrounding Luck continues.
Earlier this month, Virginia Tech defensive coordinator Bud Foster likened Luck's combination of accuracy and mobility to a cross between Peyton Manning and Donovan McNabb when they were in college. ESPN analyst Ron Jaworski thinks a more apt comparison may be current Atlanta Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan - as in a player ready to lead an NFL team right away.
"He will be the No. 1 pick in the draft if he decides to come out," Jaworski said. "His skill set projects beautifully to the NFL."
But Luck refuses to let this notion alter his decision-making process. He wants to wait and see what Harbaugh - who has also dealt with rumors that he may leave Stanford for Michigan or an NFL heading coaching job - will do.
More important, buying into his own hype would mean putting himself ahead of his teammates. And no matter how many people prematurely anoint him, Luck would never allow that to define him.
"I would like to think I'm a good team player, put the team in a position to succeed and don't detract from anybody else on the team while lifting everybody up," Luck said. "It's a team game. The quarterback's gonna get the attention, but maybe it's not so deserving all the time."