St. Petersburg Times Online: Business

Weather | Sports | Forums | Comics | Classifieds | Calendar | Movies

Leinart audibles, says he'll decide today

By wire services
Published January 14, 2005

LOS ANGELES - Heisman Trophy winner Matt Leinart has delayed announcing whether he will return to Southern California for his senior season or turn pro, saying he will reveal his plans Friday.

"I need an extra day to continue gathering information," the USC quarterback said Thursday, the day he originally set as his deadline for the decision.

The NFL deadline for underclassmen to declare for the draft is Saturday.

Two other USC juniors, linebacker Lofa Tatupu and punter Tom Malone, also are expected to announce Friday whether they will enter the draft.

Leinart, 21, obviously is having a difficult time deciding. Early this week he said he has sometimes changed his mind almost hourly.

The redshirt junior and the Trojans didn't play their final game of the season until Jan. 4, when he threw an Orange Bowl-record five touchdown passes in a 55-19 win over Oklahoma that gave USC a second consecutive national title.

He has consulted with coaches, friends, teammates, NFL quarterbacks Carson Palmer and Ben Roethlisberger and - mostly importantly, Leinart said - his own parents.

"I'm allowed to talk to really anybody. I can talk to (NFL) head coaches, I can talk to GMs, and coach (Pete) Carroll has told me that whoever I want to talk to, just let him know and he has the numbers," Leinart said earlier this week.

"There's just so much stuff. It's almost like I learn something new every day, so it makes the decision a lot harder when you find out new information. If I declare for the draft, then you have to think of every possible thing. You've got to think of what other quarterbacks are going, like where do you want to train."

CLEMSON TABS TOLEDO COORDINATOR: Rob Spence, the Toledo offensive coordinator who helped the team to 35 wins the past four seasons, was named the Tigers' offensive coordinator, coach Tommy Bowden said.

Spence, 46, replaces Mike O'Cain, a former Clemson quarterback and North Carolina State coach fired by Bowden last month after the Tigers offense struggled through much of their 6-5 season.

Spence led a Toledo attack that averaged 474.1 yards and 35.2 points a game last season as the Rockets went 9-3 and won the Mid-American Conference.

Conversely, Clemson managed only 295 yards a game, its lowest total in 10 years.

Bowden said he knew Spence for many years working the same camps and always liked what he did.

"He has not been a one-year wonder," Bowden said.

LSU: Left offensive tackle Andrew Whitworth has decided to stay for his senior season, forgoing a chance to enter the NFL draft. Whitworth said Wednesday that he was optimistic about new coach Les Miles' goals for the program and the commitment of the other upcoming seniors. He said he made the decision after meeting with Miles and talking with friends, family, an NFL advisory committee and his teammates. "It's definitely something we have on our minds, to be successful, and we're going to make sure we get that done," Whitworth said.

TENNESSEE: Safety Jason Allen will stay for his senior season after leading the SEC in tackles as a junior. "I have made a decision to stay ... another year," Allen said. "I feel like we're going to definitely be one of the best teams out there in the country." He had 123 tackles, two interceptions and forced three fumbles this season. He was a third-team All-American and graduated in December.

© Copyright, St. Petersburg Times. All rights reserved.