INDIANAPOLIS – Indianapolis has turned a page in franchise history by remolding its coaching staff, administrative personnel and playing roster for the 2012 season.
A fresh-look franchise that sports a new general manager and head coach also will attack the 2012 season with a new starting quarterback. An important hurdle in addressing who that should be was made today when the Colts inked rookie quarterback Andrew Luck, the first overall pick in this year's draft.
Luck, 6-4, 235, reached contract agreement with Indianapolis Thursday afternoon, ensuring he will be reporting on time with his teammates at Anderson University on Saturday, July 28. Practices start the following day, and the club will open preseason action on Sunday, August 12 against St. Louis in Lucas Oil Stadium.
"I am thrilled," said Luck. "I am very excited to officially be a part of the Colts organization and can't wait to get started at training camp."
Luck worked in rookie camp in May the week after being selected. He also toiled with the full squad in a mandatory mini-camp in mid-June. Since then, he has acclimated himself further with teammates and the playbook in preparing for the upcoming season.
Luck readied for the NFL fanfare by producing a sterling collegiate career. He directed Stanford to an 11-2 record in 2011 and a second straight BCS Bowl appearance. He completed 288-of-404 passes for 3,517 yards and 37 touchdowns last season. Luck capped his Cardinal career by completing 27-of-31 passes for 347 yards and two touchdowns against Oklahoma State in the Fiesta Bowl.
For his career, Luck completed 713-of-1,064 passes for 9,430 yards, with 82 touchdowns and 22 interceptions. He set school marks in touchdown passes, completion percentage (68.7), passing efficiency (162.76) and total offense (10,387), while ranking second in passing yardage. Luck earned a 31-7 starting record at Stanford, including a 24-5 conference record and an 8-3 mark against Top 25 teams. His career wins and winning percentage are school marks at his position, and he led Stanford to three bowl appearances as a starter.
Luck helped Stanford to three consecutive seasonal scoring records and to 40-plus points 17 times. He hit for three or more touchdowns in 15 of 38 starts and for four scores in seven outings. Luck also rushed for 957 yards and seven touchdowns during his career (first among school quarterbacks), including three rushes longer than 50 yards. With Luck at the controls, Stanford spent 29 consecutive weeks in the AP poll, including 22 straight ranked in the Top 10. The Cardinal had seven consecutive losing seasons prior to Luck starting in 2009. The school then posted 8-5, 12-1 and 11-2 records.
Luck was coached early in his Stanford career by Jim Harbaugh, now the field leader with San Francisco. Harbaugh spent four memorable seasons with the Colts (1994-97), and he holds Luck's abilities in deep regard.
"He's got all the qualities, really, mentally, physically. He's as prepared as anybody you're going to find. That's my opinion. He's really good," said Harbaugh during Luck's career. "What he does on the field – he's an assassin."
Reggie Wayne is the second-leading receiver in franchise history, starting his career in 2001 when Peyton Manning was in his fourth year. Now the veteran receiver will help indoctrinate a young quarterback, and he is bullish on what he has observed of Luck.
"I see a very, very promising quarterback," said Wayne. "I can see him going a long way. He has a strong arm. He pays attention to details. Whenever he makes a mistake, he owns up to it.
"He's everything you want in a quarterback. He's out there having fun, smiling. He's not super serious all the time. Whenever you see a quarterback out there having fun, you have fun. I see him doing real well. I want to make sure to do my part to make him look good."
Former Colts Offensive Coordinator Tom Moore worked with Luck for three week prior to last February's Combine. Moore has an aptitude and eye for quarterbacks on par with any strategist in history. Luck's talent and intangibles were on full display in those private sessions.
"He is extremely intelligent. He's extremely prepared. He has great retention and recall, and he's an extremely hard worker," said Moore. "Some people talk about wanting to be good. He wants to be great, and he is willing to do what you have to do to be great. I'm talking about the time and dedication it takes. … The game is very, very important to him. Being successful is very important to him. He's going to put in the time and effort to get it done. … He's the real deal."
General Manager Ryan Grigson is part of the new era in Indianapolis. He presided over the scouting personnel efforts leading up to the draft, and he feels Luck is a solid fit as the club moves forward.
"In this day and age to have someone be so completely team-oriented is uncommon. That's why I say Andrew's abilities fit like such a glove with what we're building," said Grigson. "He has those values and he has demonstrated them in a genuine way throughout his career. He's completely selfless. He's all about the team. That's rare these days in any walk of life to have someone that unselfish, especially someone in Andrew's position.
"That's why I think he's going to be tremendously successful. That's why we're going to be successful. You have the captain of your ship out there on the field and all he cares about is 'W's. … He's totally genuine."