News From Terre Haute, Indiana

May 7, 2012

Colts’ new QB has a lot to keep him busy

Tom James
Tribune-Star Correspondent

INDIANAPOLIS — With three days of rookie mini-camp now behind him and a few more weeks of college class work still ahead, Indianapolis Colts quarterback Andrew Luck has come to a crossroads.

Luck is still a student in good standing at Stanford University, with classes scheduled for every Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday until the end of the quarter on June 7. He’ll then go through the school’s graduation ceremonies on June 17 at Palo Alto.

The Colts’ No. 1 draft pick, who was selected as the first player overall two weeks ago, is also just beginning his professional career. After this past weekend’s rookie camp, Luck is prohibited by National Football League rules from working out the team’s Indianapolis facility until his school obligations have been completed.

That means no participation in the upcoming organized team activity sessions, which get under way in a couple of weeks. He won’t be able to do anything officially at the Colts’ headquarters until a mandatory full-team mini-camp on June 12.

Luck knows that he has a lot on his plate right now. It’s also a delicate balancing act, wanting to finish school and get his architecture degree while also preparing himself for the start of what could be a long and productive NFL career.

“I have a job now. This is my job. This is what I love to do and I want to devote 100 percent of my time right now to being the best football player I can be and the best quarterback for this team,” he acknowledged after Sunday’s final mini-camp practice.

“But I realize that I’m not going to let three and a half years of school go to waste right now. I am going to try to finish strong and go from there.”

Tight end Coby Fleener, as well as wide receivers Griff Whalen and LaVon Brazill, understand what Luck is going through. Fleener and Whalen were both teammates of Luck’s at Stanford. Brazill, meanwhile, attended Ohio University, which is also on the quarters schedule.

Fleener is in grad school, which means that his return to the Indianapolis facility could be sooner. It’s predicated on his classwork. Whalen and Brazill, though, are in the same boat as Luck, who is looking forward to taking part in Stanford’s graduation ceremonies.

“It is symbolic finishing, sort of closing the chapter on that part of your life,” the quarterback said.

n Looking ahead — Luck, much like his immediate predecessor Peyton Manning, is often his often his own worst critic. But he saw some progress in learning Bruce Arians’ offensive playbook.

“Leaps and bounds. The chance to get practice reps is huge, and to get on the field, get all of the reps and put something on film that you can go back to and have it start clicking. So leaps and bounds,” Luck voiced.

“The ability to come out here, you make a mistake that you watched on film, and the ability to come out and not do it again, I think, is something that has spread out through all of the guys here. So it is fun to be around.”

Next on the agenda, football-wise, is to try and organize some informal workouts with some of his new Indianapolis teammates away from practice facility.

Wide receivers Austin Collie (who has an offseason home in Sacramento) and Jeremy Ross (who attended the University of California) are expected to join Fleener and Whalen for some passing sessions at Stanford.

Luck, though, said that he will go wherever veteran wide receiver Reggie Wayne wants to get together and also wants to get some time in with Donnie Avery and Quan Cosby.

“We are going to have to find ways, legally, to get work in with the guys and start building those relationships with the veterans who can’t be here at [rookie] mini-camp,” he said.

“As a rookie quarterback, I wish it would be easier to get out here and to do this stuff, but it is the way it is. Everybody has got to do it. So do it within the rules, and find a way around it.”

Team owner Jim Irsay recently said that he would be willing to let Luck use his personal plane and helicopter if it would help ferry players around and allow them to get some work in.

“I’ve got to figure out dates and talk to the other guys first, but I will definitely use whatever means of transportation, especially if it is Mr. Irsay’s stuff,” Luck joked.