There is only one thing that has gotten the best of Andrew Luck on the football field in the past two years, and that’s been the vaunted football program that is Oregon.
And come Saturday, the Stanford redshirt junior quarterback hopes that the Heisman Trophy balloting won’t best him once more, as well.
Luck, again, is up for the most coveted individual prize in college football, along with four other standout finalists in pursuit of being called the game’s finest player.
“I’m obviously very honored,” Luck said, who will be in New York City on Saturday for the Heisman Trophy ceremony. “To be able to go and relive that again ... I’m very excited.”
Luck, who finished one spot behind Auburn’s Cam Newton last year, highlighted a 2011 season with an 11-1 record and big wins over UCLA, USC, Cal and Notre Dame.
“The USC performance, I thought, was one of those deals where you’re looking for a Heisman moment,” first-year Stanford coach David Shaw said of Luck’s four-touchdown game (one rushing) and triple-overtime win against the Trojans. “The funny thing is, that if that game happens four weeks later, he’s maybe running away with it. Because I know there is a lot of emphasis placed on late-season games.”
Instead of running away with the it, Luck is in Heisman contention with Wisconsin’s Montee Ball, Baylor’s Robert Griffin III, LSU’s Tyrann Mathieu and Alabama’s Trent Richardson.
And Luck knows he’s in for a dogfight.
“Obviously, they’re all special players,” Luck said, who only recently has gotten the opportunity to scout his latest competition. “I’m very impressed with all of their athletic abilities and how they play football and how they carry themselves off the field.”
But even as the Heisman Trophy announcement looms, Luck refuses to fully dwell on this years’ accomplishments, especially as No. 4 Stanford prepares to meet No. 3 Oklahoma State in the Fiesta Bowl in Arizona on Jan. 2.
“I haven’t had a chance really to sit down and look back on it too much,” Luck said. “I don’t want to end the football season now in my mind. But I think beating Cal and retaining The Axe for another year is definitely a big part of it, and to beat USC and Notre Dame, those type caliber programs, it’s a big deal for us.”
As for the man Luck calls coach, it’s a bit easier for him to speak about Luck’s performances.
“It’s really not his fault he makes it look easy,” Shaw said about Luck’s four touchdown passes against Notre Dame and going 3-0 as a starter in his career against the Fighting Irish. “There are so many moments — the one-handed catch against UCLA and some of those throws against UCLA ... he really put on a show.
“It’s hard to pick a few moments, because in every single game, he proved he’s one of the best players in the nation.”
All can agree that Luck is already one of the best to step on the college gridiron. But to see if he is the best, the nation will have to wait until Saturday.