|Date of Birth
||11 May 1983
|Place of Birth
||Santa Ana, California, USA
It remains to be seen how successful quarterback Matt Leinart will be with the National Football League team, The Arizona Cardinals, but being picked tenth overall in the draft, all the heat will be on him, as the Cardinals wait for him to lead their team to victory, just as he did for the USC Trojans.
Leinart was a California boy, born in Santa Ana on May 11, 1983. At the age of three, he was fitted with special glasses to correct his crossed eyes, causing him to later be picked on in school for being cross-eyed, wearing glasses, and also being overweight. He overcame all of his problems of his youth to be the star quarterback of his high school team. In 2000, Leinart was admitted to USC on a scholarship.
Once at USC, Leinart was redshirted that first year, and was a backup quarterback to Carson Palmer, who later became a quarterback with the NFL team, the Cincinnati Bengals. The very next year, though, as a sophomore, Leinart won the starting quarterback job over Matt Cassel and Brandon Hance. The very first pass he threw as a Trojan was caught for a touchdown against Auburn. He led the Trojans all the way to the Rose Bowl, passed for three touchdowns and caught another, and earned himself the title of the Rose Bowl MVP. He finished in sixth place for the Heisman Trophy that year, being beaten out by Jason White.
The Trojans started their next season already ranked number one, and faced a 28-17 deficit against Stanford in their fourth game of the season. Leinart threw a 51 yard pass to Steve Smith to spark a comeback, and USC went on to win the game 31-28, finishing the season unbeaten. Leinart beat out USC teammate Reggie Bush, and also Jason White, Adrian Peterson, and Alex Smith for the Heisman Trophy in what was his Junior year.
At the Orange Bowl that year, and in a strange quirk of fate, Leinart played against Jason White’s Oklahoma Sooners, throwing five touchdown passes to lead his team to a 55-19 victory, to again became the MVP of the championship game. Many thought Leinart would be leaving college to seek even more success at the pro level, but he decided he wanted to stay for a possible third championship.
Winning was old hat for Leinart’s Trojans by this time, and again they started off the season already ranked number one. Halfway through the season, USC fell behind to Notre Dame, with only two minutes left in the game. On a fourth and nine, Leinart risked the whole season by calling an audible to Dwayne Jarrett, who ran 61 yards to give USC a first down. Leinart scored on a quarterback sneak, keeping the winning streak alive.
Finishing up his second 12-0 season, Leinart was again a finalist for the Heisman Trophy, along with Reggie Bush and quarterback Vince Young. Bush went on to win the trophy with Leinart ending up in third place. Returning to the Rose Bowl, Leinart faced off against Young’s Texas Longhorns. Fate was finally against him as he lost a game for the first time since his sophomore year.
In the 2006 NFL Draft, Leinart was chosen tenth overall by the Arizona Cardinals. He’d been expected to go higher, but other successful quarterbacks such as Dan Marino and Ben Roethlisberger were drafted in much the same way. Leinart is joined on the Cardinals by one of his old Trojan blockers, Taitusi Lutui, as well as Cardinals star Edgerrin James.
All the hype surrounding Leinart has gotten him some notice. He found himself on Ashton Kutcher’s Punk’d, being questioned by cops that thought they found him with a prostitute. None of it was true, of course, as he ended up being yet another hoax set up by Kutcher.