Aug. 4, 2011KILLION ARCHIVE
STANFORD FOOTBALL PAGE
Ann KillionCSNBayArea.comWhos the most famous active football player in the Bay Area?
Its not even close. And its not a member of one of our professional football teams.
The most famous active football player in the Bay Area is a 21-year old architectural engineering major from Stanford.
Luck doesnt come off as the most famous football player in the land. He doesnt act like the hottest collegiate athlete on the globe. He doesnt carry himself like a guy that has the most powerful sports league in the country swooning over him.
He looks at himself as just a college kid, said his coach David Shaw.
And he is just a college kid. Speaking to the Bay Area this week, Luck was just a regular guy, albeit a nervous one. His knee jiggled spasmodically the entire time he was answering questions at a Bay Area football media day. He pulled on his fingers. He seemed like hed rather be just about anywhere else.
Hes the rare player that doesnt like all the attention, Shaw said. He just loves playing football.
Football will be different this season at Stanford. There are changes and there are ridiculous expectations. Improve on a 12-1 season? Compete for a national championship? Even a year ago, no one would have dreamed up such stuff. But last year and Lucks performance changed Stanfords world.
NEWS: Stanford sixth in Top 25 poll, Sooners No. 1
One expectation is that Luck the Heisman runner-up last year will win the trophy awarded to the most outstanding player in the land.
I try to take that in stride, he said. I understand, playing this position and being there last year, its natural for my name to be brought up. Im more focused on our team goal of winning a Pac-12 championship.
Another change is that there will be even more of the focus on Luck, without Jim Harbaughs larger-than-life presence distracting the spotlight.
Hes full of energy, he had a lot of attention on himself, Luck said of his former coach. He would walk in and command a room. Coach Shaw is a little more laid back, quiet.
That seems more in line with Lucks personality. Hes pretty laid back and doesnt seem to fully embrace the spotlight. At Pac-12 media day, he got a lot of attention for growing an Amish style, no-mustache beard. There was even a split screen image circulated comparing Luck and Brian Wilson.
But Luck showed up last week clean-shaven.
It was impulsive, he said of his decision It had to go.
He paid appropriate homage to the King of Facial Hair.
I do fear his beard, Luck said of Wilson.
Luck will get his degree next spring, shortly after he becomes the top draft pick in the 2012 draft, barring some unforeseen development. Hell get a year free of being badgered about whether or not hell turn pro. But that wont change the pressure that surrounds him, both this year and in the draft.
Luck is not a Twitter guy so he hasnt seen the hashtags circulating among Twitter-users who follow lousy NFL teams, particularly 49er followers. Those users have started to tag their tweets Suck4Luck. Translation: be lousy enough to get the top draft pick and win the Luck sweepstakes.
That seems a little stupid to me, Luck said.
Luck came back to Stanford to enjoy his final year as a college student and one more year in the Stanford jersey, though he notes that he wont be getting melodramatic, about his final Cardinal days.
REWIND: Stanford's Luck NFL-bound after this season
This will be a high stress year. Already the all-time Stanford leader in winning percentage, completion percentage and passing efficiency, Luck is closing in on other school records. And with both Oregon and USC reeling with NCAA issues, Stanford has a chance to do something special in the conference and in a bowl game.
Luck said he just wants to get better: at footwork, at reading defenses, at being a leader. He said he still gets nervous before games.
I dont throw up, he said. Im a little turned off by that. I try to stay cool and collected. I used to get a little more excited, but Ive mellowed out a little bit.
While he talked, his knee jiggled non-stop.
The most famous active football player in the Bay Area is still just a kid.