Inside the athletic complex at Mater Dei High School in Santa Ana is an exhibit that pays tribute to quarterbacks John Huarte, who went on to win the Heisman Trophy in 1964 for Notre Dame, Matt Leinart, who won the 2004 Heisman as a junior at USC, and Colt Brennan, a 2007 Heisman finalist for Hawaii.
However, as things stand today, Huarte may be the player who lasted the longest in the big show. Leinart and Brennan were cut by their respective NFL teams Saturday.
After being drafted in 1965 by the New York Jets of the AFL and the Philadelphia Eagles of the NFL, Huarte signed with the Jets. However, he was beaten out for the starting position by another rookie drafted out of the University of Alabama.
Perhaps you've heard of him: Joe Willie Namath.
Huarte went on to see action as a back-up quarterback for the then-Boston Patriots of the AFL and Philadelphia, Kansas City and Chicago in the NFL. He started his final two seasons of pro ball, in 1974-75 with the Memphis Southmen of the World Football League.
Leinart, who was released by the Arizona Cardinals, could have been the No. 1 pick in the 2005 NFL draft, but he chose to stayed at 'SC. He led the Trojans to one of their most memorable victories over Notre Dame his senior season but went on to lose the national title game, albeit in exciting fashion, to Texas and their QB Vince Young.
The Monarch/Trojan slipped to No. 10 in the draft, but Arizona did give Leinart three chances to start during his 29 games with the Cardinals. He famously lost the starting job to possible future Hall of Famer Kurt Warner and now to Derek Anderson, who'd been released by the lowly Cleveland Browns.
By cutting Leinart, Arizona does not have to pay him $2.5 million he was due this season.
Pre-release speculation had Leinart being traded to Oakland, Buffalo or the New York Giants. All three teams quickly dispelled that idea.
Now that Leinart has been cut, reunification with his former college coach Pete Carroll in Seattle was suggested. Sources say the Seahawks are happy with quarterbacks Matt Hasselbeck and Charlie Whitehurst.
Houston, Baltimore and the New York Jets have also been suggested as Leinart landing sposts, as has Las Vegas of the upstart UFL.
So have, once again, the Raiders, who cut Brennan Saturday.
Leinart's former backup at Mater Dei, Brennan was drunk when he walked into a
female student's dorm room at the University of Colorado in January 2004
and allegedly exposed himself. Sex charges were eventually dropped, but he was later convicted of felony
burglary and trespassing charges and kicked off the football team.
The son of Leighton & Associates of Irvine's CEO Terry Brennan admirably resurrected his playing career at Mission Viejo's Saddleback College, where
he earned state junior college player of the year honors in leading the
Gauchos to the conference championship.
It only got better playing for June Jones at Hawaii, where Brennan set the
NCAA record for most touchdown passes in a single season and 30 other
Division I records on his way to be a strong contender for the Heisman.
The Monarch/Gaucho/Warrior was selected by the Washington Redskins in the sixth round of the NFL Draft in 2008 by then-head coach Jim Zorn, who was let go last year and replaced by Mike
Shanahan. Brennan was sidelined with a hip injury during most of his two seasons with the 'Skins, who released Brennan a month ago. The Raiders picked him up a week later.
However, Oakland already had three QBs on the roster, practice reps were few and Brennan barely played in any of the Raiders' exhibition games, completing one pass in one attempt for 14 yards.
Finding an NFL roster spot will be difficult for Brennan or Leinart with the season starting this Thursday. They may be forced to just wait to plug a hole once a QB–somewhere, inevitably–goes down with an injury.
Despite his past problems with the law, Brennan may be considered a more solid candidate for a job when it comes to the character question. Leinart has constantly be portrayed as a spoiled Orange County bro' who expected to be handed a starting job despite spending more time partying than preparing for an elite NFL role.
“So, what's next for Matt Leinart?” “Chief aka James” posted on one message board. “There's a kegger at my place next weekend, he's free to come.”
Having famously taken a ballroom dancing class during his senior year at USC, there's also always Dancing With the Stars.
Meanwhile, Mater Dei fans pining for NFL glory by one of their golden boys QB alums may just have to wait until Matt Barkley is done at 'SC.