Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

New Start for Leinart; Hard Work and Preparation Make Him Ready to Take on Jaguars Sunday

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

New Start for Leinart; Hard Work and Preparation Make Him Ready to Take on Jaguars Sunday

Article excerpt

Byline: Tania Ganguli

Matt Leinart went from a high school program that operated like a college program to a college program that felt like an NFL team. Athletic success was a constant for Leinart during that time, a Heisman Trophy winner and BCS national champion.

His NFL career hasn't been like that, and Leinart wasn't exactly prepared.

"I've always wanted to be great; I just think I didn't know how to work like that my first couple of years," Leinart said. "I wouldn't say I thought it was just going to come easy. I wouldn't say that, but I definitely think that I wasn't sure how to be a pro on that level as far as what does it take to be a great quarterback because I was new. And with all of the success at USC, I think it was humbling."

This week against the Jaguars, Leinart will make his first start since 2009. The Texans quarterback has only started one game since 2007. He always figured he'd get the chance to start again. And now that he has, he's more prepared than he was coming out of college.

"The last three or four years I've just really kind of put my head down and just worked extremely hard every day," Leinart said. "Just saying my time is going to come, I'm going to get an opportunity to show what I can do. I'm going to get a chance, and here it is. It's been a long time, but I've never given up, never lost hope."

Leinart was heralded coming out of both high school and college. There was talk he could have been the top pick overall if he entered the draft as a junior. But instead Leinart stayed in school for his senior year and fell to the 10th pick.

The Arizona Cardinals drafted him in 2006 and it didn't go well.

"Sometimes when you're on top being at USC and then you come into the league, I think a lot of people didn't like USC guysa," Leinart said. "I don't know, just didn't like because of all the success you had. I don't know if it's jealousy or I don't know what it is."

Leinart threw 11 touchdowns and 12 interceptions in his rookie season in Arizona. …

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