Luck returning to Stanford for 2011 season

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Luck returning to Stanford for 2011 season

Jan. 6, 2011

STANFORD PAGE ANDREW LUCK PROFILE

STANFORD (AP) -- Stanford quarterback Andrew Luck has decided to stay in college to get his degree instead of immediately cashing in on the riches of being the likely No. 1 pick in the NFL draft.

Luck announced his decision Thursday, more than a week before the deadline for underclassmen to declare for the NFL draft. Luck, who sat out his first year as a redshirt, has two years of eligibility remaining but is on track to graduate next spring.

"I am committed to earning my degree in architectural design from Stanford University and am on track to accomplish this at the completion of the spring quarter of 2012," Luck said in a statement issued through the school. Stanford said Luck was not available for further comment.

NEWS: Source says Harbaugh met with Stanford president

Luck's decision to stay at Stanford comes as coach Jim Harbaugh is being wooed by NFL teams for a possible job. Harbaugh met Wednesday with officials with the San Francisco 49ers and was set to meet with Miami Dolphins owner Stephen Ross on Thursday in the Bay Area, two people with knowledge of the situation said. Both spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity because the meeting was to remain confidential.

New Denver Broncos chief football executive John Elway has said he hopes to interview Harbaugh for their job.

It's unclear whether Luck's decision to stay in school will impact Harbaugh's decision whether to leave for an NFL job this year. If Harbaugh does leave Stanford, the opportunity to coach Luck next season will likely make Stanford a plum assignment.

Luck was the runner-up this season to Auburn's Cam Newton for the Heisman Trophy and will now be one of the favorites for next year's award.

Luck was widely considered the top draft prospect after two spectacular years at Stanford. His decision will be a blow to the Carolina Panthers, who have the No. 1 pick in April's draft and are looking for a quarterback.

Luck capped this season by completing 18 of 23 passes for 287 yards and four touchdowns in the fifth-ranked Cardinal's 40-12 victory over No. 12 Virginia Tech in the Orange Bowl on Monday night.

RATTO: Orange Bowl win ushers in new era

That helped Stanford (12-1) extend its school record for wins in a season and has the Cardinal poised to finish in the top five of the AP poll for the first time since the unbeaten 1940 team finished No. 2.

Luck, the son of former NFL quarterback Oliver Luck, is a major reason why Stanford has gone from a one-win team in 2006 before Harbaugh arrived to one of the top teams in the country. He has led Stanford to a 20-5 record in his 25 career starts, only missing last season's Sun Bowl loss to Oklahoma with a broken right index finger.

"This is a win-win for him," Oliver Luck said. "He gets to spend another year at Stanford, be part of team that will be highly ranked again next year, finish his degree and enjoy Palo Alto.

"It's not like the NFL is going anywhere, it's one of the best run leagues in the world. It will still be there when he graduates."

Luck's father, the athletic director at West Virginia, said that the possibility of an NFL lockout or being selected by the Panthers did not influence his son's decision.

"Call him old school," Oliver Luck said. "He comes from a faction of people who believe you go to college to pursue your degree."

One of Luck's teammates who won't be back is linebacker Thomas Keiser, who told the Cardinal he intends to forgo his final year of eligibility to enter the draft. He started all 13 games this season and finished with 38 tackles and nine sacks.

Luck has completed 64.4 percent of his passes for 5,913 yards, 45 touchdowns and 12 interceptions in his career. He has also rushed for 807 yards and five scores. That athleticism, along with his strong, accurate arm and on-field poise, has had NFL scouts salivating at his potential as a pro.

Harbaugh, a former star quarterback at Michigan and in the NFL, has called Luck the greatest player he has ever been around.

Luck set school records for TD passes (32), completion percentage (70.7 percent) and passing efficiency (170.2) this season. He is already being mentioned alongside John Elway, Jim Plunkett, John Brodie and Frankie Albert as one of Stanford's great quarterbacks.

Span clinches win for Giants and Gearrin, who had walk-off dreams of his own

Span clinches win for Giants and Gearrin, who had walk-off dreams of his own

SAN FRANCISCO — With the winning run on second and a bat in his hands, Cory Gearrin allowed himself to dream. He was a second baseman at Mercer University years ago and he entered the night with a 1.000 batting average in the big leagues. Why couldn’t this be his night on the mound and at the plate?

Gearrin stopped on the way to the plate and told Buster Posey that he was going to walk it off. He dug in against right-hander Chad Qualls and waited for the first sinker. He swung over the top of it, but he felt it was a quality hack. And then he missed the next sinker, and then the next. 

“I felt good going into that at-bat,” Gearrin said. “It was fun getting that opportunity. I’ve never faced a sinker like that. I felt like I missed it … by a lot.”

Gearrin can take solace in two facts. First, using his own sinker, he pitched three shutout innings, more than earning his keep, and he was a well-deserved winning pitcher in a 4-3 win over the Rockies that became official one minute after midnight.

Second, perhaps he gave the next hitter, Denard Span, a better view of an opposing pitcher’s repertoire. 

“Yeah ... he gave me a lot of information during that at-bat,” Span said as he laughed. 

Okay, so maybe Gearrin’s contributions were limited to the mound, but oh what a job he did against one of the best lineups in the National League. Span didn’t glean anything from Gearrin’s brief battle, but he didn’t need to. He spat on a changeup and then ripped a sinker into right, allowing Gorkys Hernandez to race home for a 14th-inning victory. 

Span, who is open about his distrust of birds, had spent nearly two hours standing under a circling flock of seagulls. Between pitches, he often dropped his hands onto his knees, looking more eager than anyone for the night to end. 

“Those birds were dropping stuff all around me,” he said. “I was like, you know what man, I don’t got time for this.”

The single gave the Giants back-to-back wins for the first time since May 27-28. It validated so much good work, from the five relievers who got the ball to Gearrin, to the Brandons who turned a snazzy double play in the 11th, to Buster Posey, who twice threw out runners at second in extra innings. Gearrin shouted out the defense in his post game media session. 

“It’s not news to us that we’ve got gold glovers all over the field,” he said. 

The Giants trailed by a pair after Matt Cain hung a curveball to Mark Reynolds, but they chipped away. The Rockies were the jumpier team in extra innings, but every rally was cut down by stellar defense and quality pitches. Gearrin threw 34 of them. 

The veteran right-hander had never before recorded more than six outs in a big league game. He got nine outs Tuesday, giving Bochy one extension after another as he battled to make it through a game shorthanded. With Conor Gillaspie headed to the DL, the Giants had just three position players on the bench. That meant Ty Blach was used as a pinch-runner. Jeff Samardzija pinch-hit in the 11th. Bochy thought of using Matt Moore in the 14th when the pitcher’s spot came up. Hunter Strickland was warming up to pitch the 15th, but …

“I could have hit Moore — I probably should have,” Bochy said, smiling. “But Cory is a pretty good athlete and had a pretty good average going into that at-bat. The numbers swayed me.”

Gearrin got his first career at-bat last season and singled. He has not even taken batting practice since that day, but he was fired up when given the opportunity. He was still so fired up after the Giants chased Span into the outfield that he didn’t mind the fact that his shiny 1.000 batting average has been cut in half. 

“I got to use that line for a year,” he said. “But I’ll gladly sacrifice the 1.000 average for a walk-off win.”

Instant Analysis: Five takeaways from Giants' 14-inning win over Rockies

Instant Analysis: Five takeaways from Giants' 14-inning win over Rockies

BOX SCORE

SAN FRANCISCO — This, at long last, is a winning streak. A modest one, but still. 

Denard Span hit a walk-off single to right in the bottom of the 14th inning, giving the Giants a 4-3 win that became official one minute after midnight. The Giants have back-to-back wins for the first time since May 27-28. 

The Giants led early, fell behind on a three-run dinger, and then chipped away until the game went to extras. Buster Posey twice gunned runners down at second to help keep the score tied and the bullpen held tough, with Cory Gearrin throwing three scoreless innings. 

Gearrin had a chance to win it for himself in the 14th, but he struck out with Gorkys Hernandez on second. Span promptly singled. If you’re just waking up for work, here are five things to know from a night when the seagulls outnumbered the humans … 

--- Matt Cain needs an assist on the first run of the night. With Gorkys Hernandez on first, he got a sacrifice bunt down on a two-strike curveball that was headed for the dirt. Hernandez went to second and promptly scored on Denard Span’s single to right. The curveball wasn’t so kind in the sixth. With a runner on, the Giants intentionally walked lifelong nemesis Nolan Arenado to get to Mark Reynolds. Cain hung a curve and Reynolds crushed it to left for a three-run homer. 

--- The Giants got a run back in the sixth when Brandon Crawford’s deep fly allowed Buster Posey to trot in from third. Crawford leads the majors with nine sacrifice flies. He also turned a ridiculous double play that can’t adequately be described, except to say that he should expand his trophy case. 

--- Kelby Tomlinson came off the bench to tie it in the bottom of the eighth. His single to right brought Brandon Belt in from third. Tomlinson is 9 for 27 as a pinch-hitter this season. That’ll keep you on the chartered jets. 

--- Sam Dyson, with a fastball that reached 97 and an infield defense that was just as firm, pitched 1 2/3 shutout innings in extras. What a find. 

--- With the go-ahead run on first and no outs in the 13th, Nolan Arenado put down a sacrifice bunt. That's one of the five best moments of the Giants' season.