Thursday, December 06, 2007

Running Room?

But many top college players, including some recent Heisman winners, don't have the luck to be drafted by teams that can give them a fair chance to develop. "Football," says Bob Boyles, author of "Fifty Years of College Football," "is the ultimate team-oriented game where a quarterback can't become a star passer without receivers streaking into the open and catching the ball while unsung linemen mount great pass protection."

An example, says Mr. Boyles, is Matt Leinart, the University of Southern California's 2004 Heisman winner, who was considered a can't-miss prospect when he was drafted by Arizona. The difference in the talent level between the USC Trojans and the Arizona Cardinals must have come as a shock to Mr. Leinart. In college he was surrounded by All-American caliber linemen and playing the same backfield with such pro prospects as running backs LenDale White (now with the Tennessee Titans) and Reggie Bush (himself a Heisman winner, now with the New Orleans Saints). At Arizona, Mr. Leinart's supporting cast has been far less imposing; quarterbacking for the Cardinals, Mr. Boyles notes, Mr. Leinart "is sometimes hit more times in a single game than he was in an entire season at Southern Cal." (This season he has been on the injured reserve list since Oct. 10.)

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