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Leinart, Young do battle again

Saturday, February 25, 2006

The two quarterbacks are jockeying for position in the draft.

INDIANAPOLIS -- The link between Matt Leinart and Vince Young grows stronger.

In December, they sat together at the Heisman Trophy ceremony. In January, they faced each other for a national title. Now they're in Indianapolis vying to become the first quarterback chosen in April's NFL draft.

Separating them is the challenge.

"Matt's success at Southern Cal over the last couple of years is almost unprecedented in the history of the school. He understands offense, he understands defense, and moves the football and makes plays in big games," Tennessee coach Jeff Fisher said Friday.

"Vince, on the other hand, is a different style of quarterback, certainly if not the top, one of the top athletes coming out of the draft."

Leinart led USC to two straight national championships, then Young's performance in January's Rose Bowl ended the Trojans' run. Texas won its first outright championship since 1969, and Young's stock rose so quickly he had to skip his senior season.

The battle between Leinart and Young is no longer about jewelry or trophies; it's about bragging rights, prestige and cold cash.

Most people expect USC running back Reggie Bush to be the top pick in April with the quarterbacks expected to go next. The question is who goes first?

Leinart has played in a pro-style offense, succeeded Pro Bowl quarterback Carson Palmer at USC and fits the classic drop-back model. He was listed at 6-foot-5, 225 pounds.

Young, in contrast, is this year's hot prospect after throwing for 267 yards and running for 200 more, including the winning touchdown, in the Rose Bowl.

Team officials love his athletic ability and strong arm although Young believes he must prove more to be taken first or second overall.

He has heard the complaints about his unorthodox sidearm delivery.

Leinart believes his arm strength and mobility are being questioned.

But neither seems concerned.

Neither will work out in Indianapolis.


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