This is what a leader should look like—neard and all. (Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images)
With the first day of mini-camps in the bag, the reviews of Andrew Luck are in and they seem to be unanimous: The guy is pretty darn good in some cleats, shorts, shirt, and a helmet. Wooing people with incredible athletic ability is a given for a No. 1 pick, but finding a rookie that can come in and direct an offense, despite missing a few weeks, and to do so with an authority, is a rarity that really speaks to the nature of Luck's maturity.
Many were clearly enamored by Luck and his leadership qualities at today's mini-camp. Teammate Coby Fleener thought that Luck's pre-snap adjustments impressed some veterans.
So, how does he do it? Well, it surely helps to be incredibly smart (Stanford, anyone?). However, it takes something a little deeper than that. Anyone that wants to be great has to have "it," and "it," simply put, is the determination and will to strive to be the absolute best. And if Luck's college career is any kind of an indicator, he's done a pretty good job at staking his claim as the best from a collegiate perspective. However, Luck is coming into a situation that will naturally cause some jitters for a rookie, especially after having to sit back and wait around while the rest of his teammates get to work.
"I’ve managed to learn the playbook, so I don’t think I’m starting at zero," Luck said. "I have something of a base. I’ve accomplished a fair amount, although I wished I could have been here. But I think by the end of (today), I’ll have a pretty good idea about things.’’
Sounds like a coach's dream to me, and head coach Chuck Pagano would seem to agree.
"Again, no mental errors, just like rookie minicamp. He hasn’t missed a beat. He’s a really bright kid, really focused and driven. The success he’s had — the reason is because football is so important to him, so I’m really pleased where’s he’s at. His football IQ is off the charts.’’
And although his body was in Palo Alto to conclude one of the most important stages of life, his mind was Indianapolis, pondering the soon-to-be most important stage of his life as a franchise quarterback in the NFL.
"I’d wake up in the morning and have a serious lack of motivation to go to class," Luck said. "Then I’d work out, do football stuff until lunch, then go to afternoon classes and go from there. It was tough ... My mind has been in Indianapolis the last couple of months."
There's still miles and miles to go, but for the fans of Indianapolis who are going through a major transition phase with their beloved football team, all of these little compliments and words of encouragement have to be sparking some excitement. And speaking of encouragement, thanks to teammates like Cory Redding and Austin Collie, among others, Luck should feel a little more comfortable in his new hometown and with the guys that will share the huddle with him, week in and week out. Veteran or rookie, they're all in. The Peyton Manning boat has left town and if you're not on board with what the SS Building The Monster is haulin', now is the time to get off.
It's early, but I think we're starting to resemble a football team (again), ladies and gents.