INDIANAPOLIS – Andrew Luck walked into the stadium Peyton built, looked around the building and seemed right at home.
Dressed in a gray suit, a light blue button-down shirt and speaking from behind the same lectern Manning routinely answered postgame questions, he savored the moment and honored his predecessor.
He (Manning) was the epitome of class and winning and everything he did was so gracious, Luck said. In college youre watching film of Peyton and Aaron Rodgers and Tom Brady to see why theyre so successful. Hes such a great example for high school kids, middle-school kids. I was one of those kids who looked up to him.
And now, hes the one trying to replace Manning.
It wont be easy.
After next weekends three-day rookie minicamp, the Stanford quarterback will head back to school to finish the two courses he needs to earn his architectural degree. League rules prohibit him from participating in any more practices until classes wrap up June 7.
Between now and then, though, Luck will be doing his NFL homework.
He now has a Colts playbook and is already trying to arrange some individual work with Pro Bowl receiver Reggie Wayne.
Luck promised he would be creatively cramming.
With the Colts taking his college teammate, tight end Coby Fleener, in the second round, he wont have to go far to find another receiver to help out.
In the third round, Indianapolis added tight end Dwayne Allen from Clemson. At 6-foot-3, 255 pounds, Allen won the John Mackey Award as college footballs top tight end. Fleener and Allen were generally considered the two best players at their position in the draft.
The Colts then traded their fourth-round pick and a fifth-rounder in 2013 to Baltimore to get to No. 92, where they selected receiver T.Y. Hilton out of Florida International. The small, speedy Hilton excels in the short passing game and as a return man.
Luck spent two hours at the team complex, meeting with his new coach, Chuck Pagano, his new general manager, Ryan Grigson, and Irsay before going to the stadium. He couldnt wipe the smile from his face. Or keep the No. 12 jerseys out of the stands.
The crowd was dominated by No. 12 jerseys that went on sale almost the moment NFL commissioner Roger Goodell uttered Lucks name.
Our (two) stores were open till 11 p.m. (Thursday), and we had people waiting there for the commissioners announcement, said Jeremy Coffman, director of the Colts pro shop. Business was very brisk.
Coffman estimated the two stores sold a couple of hundred jerseys, at $115 each.
While the Luck pick was no surprise, Fleeners availability Friday night at No. 34 overall was.
I cant tell you how excited I am and what it means to have him at quarterback, Fleener said during a conference call with local reporters.
Fleener said Luck sent him a text message almost immediately, which said Oh yeah.
Fleener could make an immediate impact. Though the offense in Indianapolis may be different, he and Luck are familiar with one anothers nuances and played in a pro-style system at Stanford.
Were very good friends, Fleener said. I cant even describe how excited I am right now.
In four seasons, Fleener caught 96 passes for 1,543 yards and 18 touchdowns, a career record for Cardinal tight ends. His numbers improved each season, topping out with 34 receptions for 667 yards and a team-best 10 touchdown in 2011 when he was first-team all-Pac 12.
The Colts are hoping he can fit into this offense the way Clark did.
The Colts have seven more choices today.