Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Andrew Luck...and the Two-Minute Drill

It was a long time coming…close to four months—and, well worth the wait.

Andrew Luck and I finally sat down on a rainy afternoon in Jimmy V’s Sports CafĂ© at Stanford for his turn at the Two-Minute Drill.
Andrew Luck
Andrew has been quite busy these last few months. First, it was finals (yes, he is still a student at Stanford and takes pride in that), then prep for the Fiesta Bowl, the Fiesta Bowl, and then training for the NFL Combine and Pro Day (next week at Stanford).

While we were talking, Nneka Ogwumike, the 6-2 forward and one of the stars of No. 2 ranked Stanford’s Women’s basketball team, stopped by to chat with Andrew. Her tournament starts Saturday in Virginia. And, as a side note, this team is a must-see. Another finely coached team by Tara VanDerveer.

It seemed like on every corner I looked today on campus I saw world-class athletes, top coaches (i.e., VanDerveer), and then, there was Andrew…one of the greatest college football players ever.

A few surreal moments during our conversation were when he looked up from his sandwich and noticed his jersey…signed…in a frame…along with all the signatures of his teammates from the team that went 11-2. His comment, “Oh wow…I never noticed that. And, look they spelled losses wrong. I’ll have to tell them.” [It was spelled loses.]

The other moment was when the TV I was facing had PTI on and I looked up and saw the topic and photo was about Andrew. His reaction? A shrug.

Not that he expects this. No, not even in his position at the moment…possibly going No. 1 in the NFL draft. No, it’s just Andrew being Andrew. He doesn’t get caught up in all the noise around him. He’s down to earth and humble.

As I sat down with Andrew to talk, I was humbled by the fact that this is one of the only interviews he’s given in months. Thanks Andrew.

PJ: What was it like to just train for the NFL combine these past few months?

Andrew: It was totally different. I’ve talked to a lot of my former teammates and we all feel the same way. Our work in the off-season was about working with the team. I was used to grabbing [Stanford teammate Chris] Owusu one night and working on slants with him. Or grabbing the center [Sam Schwartzstein] and working on snaps. It was a team focus. Now it’s a me focus. How can I make myself better? It was a different approach to things.

It’s interesting there is a whole industry around combine prep. Not sure this was there 10 or 15 years ago. I’m glad I did what I did. It was nice to be in LA and get different opinions on things.

The other part of the focus is on combine drills. You want to put on a good show...have a favorable performance. It was totally 100% combine driven. I did watch some film, though.

PJ: You look like you are a little more toned than the last time I saw you—at the Fiesta Bowl. Is this from the training?

Andrew: During the football season you get out of shape. You aren’t lifting as much and it’s hard…you taper off at the end of the season. In the off-season you build back up and then lose it again. It’s the cycle of things.

Andrew at the NFL Combine

PJ: I’ve heard they have machines that measure your performance, etc. What was the strangest thing they made you do in your NFL combine training?

Andrew: They took pictures and behind us there was a grid to see if our body was asymmetrical—if one shoulder was out of place, etc. Then, we’d work on the discrepancies and try to fix it. While it was strange, it was kind of cool.

PJ: The actual NFL combine must have been surreal. Tell me about your experience.

Andrew: Absolutely! It was a four-day interview where everything you did was being watched. It’s unlike anything I’ve ever done.

My 40 was faster than I thought. I worked hard and took this seriously. I wanted to do well and sometimes in a situation like this there is a lot of adrenaline and it just takes over.

Anytime you put 270 athletes or so in one space it does turn into a competition, everyone wants to do well. It was a weird dynamic. They broke us into groups and you rarely found anyone negative. We encouraged each other to do well. It was another chance for the GMs and scouts to look at us.

PJ: One more test, Pro Day at Stanford is coming up next Thursday. Are you excited? Will you throw?

Andrew: Yes, I will throw at Pro Day. It’s good. We have a bunch of guys, not the [Jonathan] Martins, [David] DeCastros, [Coby] Fleeners, who this will be beneficial for—to be seen in that capacity one more time.

PJ: After that, you are going back to class. Will that transition be hard after just training for these past few months?

Andrew: School starts the beginning of April and hopefully I will pass my two classes at graduate in June. I am sure it will be a little hard to get motivated to go to class, but I want to graduate…I want to close this chapter in my life.

PJ: And, the draft falls in the middle of this.

Andrew: Yes, the draft could be distracting, however it’s a great opportunity and I’m not complaining at all!

PJ: So what has it meant to you to be at Stanford these last four years?

Andrew: It’s been a lot of fun…not to say every moment has been great. There are some moments you wish you could have back. But, I’ve loved it. The people I’ve met…the students, the teachers, the people in the community. As you know, there are some great families here and people doing a lot of influential things. It’s cool to be a part of that network and now hopefully I can tap into it.

PJ: What will you miss the most?
Andrew: I was going to say the weather [he laughs, looking outside at the rainy day]. It’s the people…a lot of cool people. They do a great job at Stanford giving us a unique environment to grow and meet all these people.

PJ: What are you most proud of during the last four years?
Andrew: The wins. We did a good job of consistently winning…especially in the last two years. I think they will continue…they have good players and Coach Shaw is doing a good job.

PJ: What was your biggest disappointment?
Andrew: Losing to Oregon two years in a row. That really hurts. I wish we could have done something different. But, alas….they beat us fair and square.

PJ: I noticed you just signed with Nike. Tell me about that and the YouTube video you shot.
Andrew: I am fortunate to be with such a wonderful sports company. I’ve been able to wear it for the last four years here at Stanford. I am blessed to be part of the Nike athletic family.

The YouTube video was an interesting experience. It’s a good thing they didn’t have to stage anything. I was just working out. The production team surprised me…how big it was…from the lighting, camera, and other production people. Reading the script didn’t faze me too much. After all, I’ve called enough plays in my life!