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Andrew Luck says he ‘couldn’t ask for a better opportunity”

By Daniel Brown, San Jose Mercury News –

NEW YORK — Along with being the first pick in the NFL draft, Andrew Luck is keeping a busy schedule in the Big Apple, including an appearance on the David Letterman show.

Ever the studious one, Luck plans to use the late-night gig as a scouting mission.

“I know Letterman has Indianapolis ties,” the Stanford quarterback said. “Maybe I’ll learn something about the city from him.”

Luck can afford to look ahead. He already knows where he ranks on the NFL’s Top 10 list: The Colts will take him No. 1 on Thursday at Radio City Music Hall, anointing him as the heir apparent to Peyton Manning.

Luck acknowledged that formality for the first time Wednesday morning during a pre-draft charity event at Chelsea Waterside Park. The Colts established last week that Luck would be their man.

“I couldn’t be more excited. What a great city to be a part of — the organization, the area, the community,” he said. “I couldn’t ask for a better opportunity.”

Luck said he even looked forward to following in Manning’s gargantuan footsteps.

“Those are obviously huge shoes to fill, there’s no other way to put it. He’s a legend. He’s arguably the best ever,” Luck said. “I’ll do my best. And if one day I can be mentioned up there with Peyton Manning, that would be my football dream come true.”

Barring a major shocker, Robert Griffin III, the Heisman Trophy-winning quarterback from Baylor, will go No. 2, to the Washington Redskins.

It will mark the fourth time since 1967 that quarterbacks have been taken No. 1 and No. 2 in the draft. The other times were Jim Plunkett and Archie Manning (1971), Drew Bledsoe and Rick Mirer (1993), Manning and Ryan Leaf (1998) and Tim Couch and Donovan McNabb in 1999.

Luck and Griffin are such supernova prospects that a USA Today story this week compared the pair of can’t-miss kids to Larry Bird and Magic Johnson, who spent their Hall-of-Fame careers as intertwined rivals.

The package deal is fine with Luck, who said he became friends with Griffin during the college award season.

“I understand that we’ll be linked forever in our careers. And hopefully we’ll have long, fruitful careers,” Luck said. “And I’ll root for him — unless we’re playing him. I’m sure he’ll say the same thing. He’s a great guy, and I definitely wish him all the best.”

Luck said Wednesday that he did not believe his representation, Wasserman Media Group, and the Colts have begun negotiations. He also said he will be eligible to participate in Colts workouts after June 7, the date of his last final at Stanford.

Whenever he gets started, there is much work to be done. This is not the same Indianapolis team that was a perennial contender with Manning at the helm for more than a decade. Mel Kiper Jr., the ESPN draft analyst, said the Colts have so many holes that “they look like an expansion team.”

“It wouldn’t surprise me if they’re picking No. 1 again next year,” Kiper Jr. said. “Andrew Luck, you just hope he can survive with this personnel around him.”

Luck vows to make the best of whatever talent he has around him. (At the youth charity event Wednesday, he managed to throw a long touchdown pass to a tyke as time expired in a passing drill.)

After going 31-7 as a starter at Stanford, Luck is inheriting a Colts team that went 2-14 and was outscored by 187 points.

“Obviously, the slate has been wiped somewhat clean “¦ but I’m going to go there and work as hard as I can,” he said. “If that means it’s a rebuilding process, you can label it that. But I’m sure all the guys are working very hard.”

Luck will become Stanford’s fourth quarterback to be taken No. 1, the most by any school. The others are Bobby Garrett (1954), Plunkett (‘71) and John Elway (‘83).

With Luck’s No. 1 status safe, it will be tough to manufacture any draft-day suspense. About the only mystery left is what the famously aw-shucks quarterback will be wearing as he walks down the red-carpet and into the Radio City Music Hall.

“I’ll let my mom pick out the colors for me,” Luck said. “Fashion is not my strong point.”

Other highlights from Luck’s meeting with the media:

— He’s not taking a starting spot for granted: “There’s always competition in football. If I’m not the best quarterback on the team, I hope they don’t start me.”

— What opponent does he most look forward to facing? “It’ll be very fun to hopefully play against Jim Harbaugh some day,” he said. (The 49ers’ coach was once Luck’s coach at Stanford.)

— What will he miss most about college? “Beating Cal.”

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