College: Southern California
Birthday: May 11, 1983
Most observers expected a significant dropoff at quarterback for USC in 2003: Heisman Trophy winner Carson Palmer was gone, and his replacement, sophomore Matt Leinart, had never thrown a pass in a college game and had barely won the starting job. All Leinart did as a starter was best Palmer’s stats and lead the Trojans to a share of the national championship.
Despite being new to the starting lineup last season, Leinart quickly established himself as the leader of the Trojans. A lefthander, he is not blessed with a cannon but has above-average arm strength and is a very accurate passer. He has ideal stature for an NFL quarterback, with the height to see the field and the frame to withstand hits. He also reads defenses well and makes very few mistakes. Leinart displayed this efficiency in the Rose Bowl against Michigan, when he completed nearly 68% of his passes for 327 yards with three touchdowns and no interceptions.
Leinart faces the same “product of the system” questions that his predecessor did. Last year he received great protection from his line, threw to NFL-caliber receivers, and could depend on a powerful ground game to share the load. Leinart also has the advantage of playing under offensive coordinator Norm Chow, who has a track record of getting the most out of quarterbacks such as Palmer, Phillip Rivers, and a line of Brigham Young signal callers going back to Gifford Nielsen.
Leinart says that he is going to stay at USC through his senior year, but if he comes out in 2005 he should receive serious consideration early in the draft.
(profile written by Warren DeLuca)
Matt Leinart’s 2003 Stats G ATT CMP % YDS TD INT 13 402 255 63.4 3,556 38 9 Matt Leinart Home