High-SchoolFootball: Stanford football recruiting

ESPNHS Alumnus of the Week: Andrew Luck

October, 11, 2011
Andrew LuckTom Hauck/ESPNHSAndrew Luck was the Elite 11 MVP runner-up to Blaine Gabbert in the summer of 2007.
After a stellar sophomore season in 2010 in which he led Stanford to a top five national ranking and Orange Bowl victory, quarterback Andrew Luck entered the 2011 season as the most highly-regarded college signal caller in NFL Draft circles since at least Peyton Manning in 1998. So far this fall the 6-4, 235 pound redshirt-junior has done nothing to dispel that reputation, leading Stanford to a 5-0 start. The son of former West Virginia and NFL quarterback Oliver Luck, Andrew had his top game of the season to this point this past Saturday, completing 26-of-33 passes for 370 yards and three touchdowns as Stanford drilled Colorado 48-7. On the year so far, Luck is completing 73.1% of his passes for 1,383 yards and 14 touchdowns with just two interceptions, and has Stanford up to No. 5 in the latest coaches' poll. Today we take a look back at Luck when he was in high school with an ESPNHS Alumnus of the Week feature.

Andrew Luck was a three-year starter at Stratford High School in Houston, assuming the starting role as a sophomore in 2005 and holding his own at one of the largest high schools in Texas, earning all-district honors as he completed 116 of 229 passes for 1,529 yards and seven TDs while also rushing for 700 yards. Following his sophomore season, Luck attended a Nike Combine in Houston and flashed some of the underrated athleticism that has scouts now drooling over his upside, posting a 35.5-inch vertical jump and 4.48 shuttle at the event.

The next fall as a junior, Luck really came into his own, earning District 19-5A MVP honors as he threw for 2,926 yards and 27 TDs on 176 of 257 passing while rushing for 714 yards and 10 scores, leading Stratford to a 10-2 record. Houston, Baylor and Nebraska were the first to step up with scholarship offers for Luck during the fall of his junior season, and by January of 2007, Texas A&M, Oklahoma State, Kansas, Kansas State, Purdue, Northwestern and Duke had also all entered the race.

Luck attended the TCU Elite 11 QB regional camp that April, and after a strong showing at the event, he was the first QB in the Class of 2008 invited to the Elite 11 finals. One of few prospects to ever truly act on words that academics were important to him, Luck showed just how important school was to him when he cut his list to five in early-June, eliminating some national powers like LSU and Nebraska in favor of Purdue, Northwestern, Stanford, Virginia, and Rice. Luck announced Stanford as his choice shortly thereafter on June 30th.

At the Elite 11 finals that July, Luck had a strong showing alongside the other competitors, which included now Jacksonville Jaguar Blaine Gabbert as well as Mike Glennon (NC State), Jacory Harris (Miami), Landry Jones (Oklahoma), E.J. Manuel (FSU), Sean Renfree (Duke) and former Clemson starter and now minor league baseball player Kyle Parker. He was ranked by the college counselors as the runner-up to Gabbert as the MVP of the finals, showing many of the same attributes that have now made him one of college football's most celebrated prospects - intelligence, accuracy, arm strength and the focus and drive to be great and not let outside elements distract or deter him.

Luck led Stratford to a 9-4 mark as senior that fall, completing 196 of 338 passes for 2,684 yards and 19 TDs while rushing for 671 yards and 14 scores, earning second team all-state and various All-American honors and playing in the Army All-American Bowl.

Before signing with the Cardinal, Luck was ranked as high as the No. 4 quarterback in the nation and No. 47 player overall by Scout.com, the No. 4 pro-style QB and No. 68 overall player nationally by Rivals.com, and the No. 7 QB and No. 61 player overall by ESPN Recruiting. He served as the valedictorian of Stratford's graduating class of 2008. Former Ohio State and now Oakland Raider rookie QB Terrelle Pryor was the consensus No. 1 overall player and QB in the Class of 2008.
Sterling Shepard & Barry J. SandersPhotograph by Andreas Laszlo KonrathDefenses have had few answers for Heritage Hall (Oklahoma City) teammates Sterling Shepard & Barry J. Sanders.
Heritage Hall (Oklahoma City) senior football stars Sterling Shepard and Barry J. Sanders are arguably the nation’s top gridiron tandem. The ESPNU 150 recruits went into this season with plenty of hype and they've more than backed it up, accounting for 17 touchdowns as the Chargers have cruised to a 4-0 start.

As has been the case through most of their high school football careers, Shepard and Sanders have found themselves on the sidelines in the second half of games this year due to Heritage Hall’s big first-half leads.

Fortunately, the precocious pair can find plenty of competition in practice.

This story originally appeared in the October issue of ESPNHS magazine.

The toughest competition Barry J. Sanders and Sterling Shepard have seen during their time on the Heritage Hall (Oklahoma City) football team hasn’t come on game day.

The Chargers -- winners of two state titles in the past three years -- frequently dominate their opponents, meaning Sanders and Shepard are often on the sideline by the second half.

“The biggest problem I have is getting them enough touches,” Heritage Hall coach Andy Bogert says.

It’s a nice problem to have. But for elite players like Sanders and Shepard, half a game doesn’t satisfy their competitive appetites. Fortunately for them, there’s practice, which serves as a game of "Can You Top This?"

Sanders and Shepard -- both two-way skill-position players ranked in the ESPNU 150 -- always go head-to-head in position drills, and sometimes it gets heated. Bogert won’t let them go against each other during the full-contact portion of practice for fear of a major collision.

“They fight it out every single day,” their coach says. “If one of them gets the better of the other, they’re talking. It’s pretty entertaining.”

Sanders and Shepard use the battles as a way to gauge their skill levels.

“It’s a lot of fun,” Sanders says. “I don’t think I’ll face another receiver like him.”

The two also share a bond in that their fathers were once gridiron stars. Sanders’ dad, Barry, is a Hall of Fame running back. Derrick Shepard, who died when Sterling was 6, starred at Oklahoma and played in the NFL for five years.

While their one-on-one practice matchups are intense, the close friends are glad to be on the same side come game time.

“We love playing [together],” Shepard says. “It makes our jobs a lot easier.”

Class: 2012
Positions: WR/RB/QB/DB
ESPNU 150 Rank: 57
HT/WT: 5-11/185
411: Shepard was a touchdown machine last season, recording 34 total TDs, including four in the Class 3A state title game. The Oklahoma commit put up 1,015 receiving yards and added 571 yards on the ground. On defense, he tallied 103 tackles and eight INTs.

Positions: RB/CB
ESPNU 150 Rank: 77
HT/WT: 5-10/190
411: Sanders played in just seven games last fall because of a torn ligament in his right foot, but he still managed to rush for 1,168 yards and 16 touchdowns. He's considering Oklahoma State, Florida State, Alabama and Stanford.

GO WATCH: Check out Barry J. Sanders and Sterling Shepard for yourself when their Heritage Hall team takes on Bethany (Okla.) on Oct. 28 at 8 p.m. ET on ESPNU.