The last time we checked in with Houston (Tex.) Stratford High School quarterback Andrew Luck, he was fresh off a family trip to the Bay Area and an unofficial visit to The Farm. Days after our report, Luck landed a Stanford offer at the end of March.
"I was very honored. My family was, too. We have a lot of respect for the school, academically and athletically. They've had great quarterbacks, like John Elway. I was very honored to receive an opportunity to play football there," the recruit recalls. "I was excited. It's always exciting when you get an opportunity to play Division I football."
"I talked to Coach [Jim] Harbaugh for a while, and I've been in touch with Coach [Andy] Buh. It's a good relationship," Luck says. "They tell me that they'd love to have me out there. It's a great school, and you can go far with a Stanford degree."
Luck previously listed 12 schools that he called his favorites, and Stanford made that list. However, Harbaugh had yet take the plunge with a scholarship offer. Does the fact that Luck now carries a Cardinal offer elevate their stock in his eyes?
"It does," Luck allows. "The more I look at Stanford, the more I see how valuable a degree from there is, too. Coach Harbaugh seems like he is going to turn the program around, as well. The more I have looked into it, the more it looks like a good school to me."
The Stratford standout is not yet ready to advance his feelings on favorites, however. The 12 schools he previously listed (Texas, Texas A&M, Oklahoma State, Nebraska, Stanford, Cal, UCLA, Northwestern, Purdue, Rice, Virginia and LSU) still stand unchanged. The only modification for Luck is the recent addition of a 13th school to his list.
"Alabama is also in there, as well," he reports. "They made an offer, and I've been talking to them a little bit."
Luck has pulled in 17 scholarship offers to date. Stanford, Cal, Rice, Houston, Baylor, Texas A&M, LSU, North Carolina, Nebraska, Duke, Kansas State, Kansas, Northwestern, Purdue, Arizona, Oklahoma State and Alabama. Absent from that list but still firmly among his favorites is the college football king of the Lone Star State.
"It's a great program and a great academic school," he says of the Texas Longhorns.
Though he is still maintaining a large list and an open stance toward new suitors, Luck says that he is nearing a big cut in his college recruitment.
"When school ends, I will probably have a top five and then go do some camps at those schools this summer," he offers. "I think we have about five weeks of school left, so school would end about the end of May."
Of his top schools, almost all have tendered scholarships. The purpose of camping at colleges in the summer is often for a prospect to prove himself to an inquiring coaching staff, but that is not what Luck has in mind. He wants to test drive the coaches as one of the final measurements toward his college decision.
"That's exactly the mindset I'm taking into it - to see what it would be like to practice and to play there," Luck explains.
Ranked #1 in his class of 500 at Stratford, and the owner of a 1900 SAT scored his sophomore year, Luck is one of the brightest to be found among the nation's top recruits in the Class of 2008. That does not, however, mean that he has figured out any of the schools who will make his final five in a few weeks' time.
"I don't know," Luck says. "I haven't really thought about it that much. I guess when spring football starts, I'll start thinking about that a little more. I'm still just letting it sort of come right now."
He does know the factors that matter the most in his college selection.
"I think it will be academics, especially. There is life after football, and I have to have something to do," Luck describes. "Also you want to go to a winning program, but it's not the end of the world if you don't, if you truly feel at home at a school. And a coaching staff that makes you feel at home. It's hard to go off to college as an 18-year-old, and I'm probably going to feel homesick. It'll help if the coaching staff and the players around you make you feel like you're part of another family."
This week marked the beginning of the busiest recruiting period during a prospect's junior year of high school. College coaches from now through the end of May are able to leave their respective campuses to evaluate Luck in person, both athletically and academically. Schools are also able to for the first time place a single phone call to his home or cell phone.
"I'm going to try to not let it effect spring practice very much," Luck comments. "I don't know who all is going to come or how many people will come, but if they do, that's great for me and for other kids on my team. It can give them an opportunity to be noticed. But I'm going to try to just let them come while I still focus on improving my game."
The Spartans will soon start their spring practices and tour of 7-on-7 tournaments, but training is already well underway for Luck and his teammates.
"We've been doing strength & conditioning every day. Lifting weights and getting faster," he says. "We've also been working on a lot of footwork so that when spring starts, we don't look like a bunch of clowns trying to drop back and hand off."
The spring evaluation period not only allows coaches to get an up-close look at somebody like Luck, but it also gives us opportunities to see recruits as they attend various combines. Luck, however, has no such plans beyond an Elite 11 tryout in Fort Worth on April 27. His news will instead be relegated to recruiting, and that will come to a head in late May. Stay tuned.
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