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January 07, 2002
At a practice before the GMAC Bowl, Marshall quarterback Byron Leftwich (left) put on the number 45 jersey of tight end Gregg Kellett, went onto the field and began to mimic his teammate, a weight-room junkie who's constantly stretching. Given that Leftwich is 6'6" and 240 pounds and Kellett is 6'3", 260, the quarterback looks more like a tight end than Kellett does. "When I got to Marshall, I was 6'4", 190," Leftwich says. "Hopefully I'll stop growing. If I don't, I'm going to work on my drop step."
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January 07, 2002

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All-Bowl Team

POS.

NAME

SCHOOL

CLASS

SKINNY

OFFENSE

WR

Taylor Jacobs

Florida

Jr.

Set Orange Bowl record with 170 receiving yards, 147 in the first half, in blowout of Maryland

WR

Josh Reed

LSU

Jr.

Nation's best receiver unstoppable against Illinois: 14 catches, 239 yards, two TDs in Sugar rout

WR

Charles Rogers

Michigan St.

So.

Caught TD passes of 72, 69 yards in first half; ended with 10 catches for 270 yards in Silicon Valley Bowl

TE

Jerramy Stevens

Washington

Jr.

Breakout game in Holiday Bowl--nine catches, 109 yards, TD--after missing six games with broken left foot

LT

Reggie Coleman

Tennessee

Sr.

Protected back of Casey Clausen, who threw for 393 yards, three TDs in Citrus Bowl romp over Michigan

LG

Ed Wilkins

Miami

Jr.

Key man as Hurricanes piled up 472 yards and allowed no sacks in Rose Bowl drubbing of Nebraska

C

Kyle Young

Clemson

Sr.

18 knockdown blocks for Tigers, who had 548 total yards in Humanitarian Bowl pasting of Louisiana Tech

RG

Montrae Holland

Florida St.

Jr.

Made key blocks on Greg Jones's 22- and 23-yard runs in Gator Bowl-clinching drive

RT

Mike Williams

Texas

Sr.

Big reason that Major Applewhite threw for 473 yards, four TDs and was knocked down only once in Holiday

QB

Byron Leftwich

Marshall

Jr.

Threw for 576 yards in bringing Thundering Herd back from 38-8 halftime deficit to win GMAC Bowl

TB

Chester Taylor

Toledo

Sr.

Carried 31 times for 190 yards, the last 24 on winning TD dash against Cincinnati in Motor City Bowl

K

Nate Kaeding

Iowa

So.

Fourth field goal, a 47-yarder with :44 to play, gave Hawkeyes win over Texas Tech in Alamo Bowl

DEFENCE

DE

Daryl Smith

Georgia Tech

So.

Moved from LB for Seattle Bowl, made fourth-down, goal line tackle to prevent Stanford touchdown

DT

Ryan Sims

North Carolina

Sr.

Spent most of game in Auburn backfield, helping to hold Tigers to 31 rushing yards in Peach Bowl

DT

Igor Olshansky

Oregon

Fr.

At 19 already 6'6", 287 pounds and bench presses 455; had three tackles in Fiesta Bowl

DE

John Henderson

Tennessee

Sr.

Forced one fumble, recovered another—on the same play; also had six tackles in Citrus Bowl

LB

Josh Ott

Boston College

So.

Eagles converted his interception and recovered fumble into 10 points in Music City triumph

LB

Clifton Smith

Syracuse

Jr.

Made 12 tackles, two for loss, to help Orangemen hold Kansas State to 33 rushing yards in lnsight.com Bowl

LB

Jonathan Vilma

Miami

So.

Hurricanes' defensive star with eight tackles including bone-crushing hit on Ben Zajicek that forced fumble

CB

Byron Jones

Texas A&M

Fr.

Made three interceptions and brought them back for 77 yards in Galleryfurniture.com Bowl

CB

Sheldon Brown

South Carolina

Sr.

Set up game-winning field goal by returning interception 37 yards in Outback Bowl

FS

Lamont Thompso

11 Washington St.

Sr.

Against Purdue, Sun Bowl MVP had two interceptions; Pac-10's career leader with 22 picks

SS

Roy Williams

Oklahoma

Jr.

Had two of Sooners' nine sacks and three tackles for loss against Arkansas in Cotton Bowl

P

Mike Shafer

Syracuse

Jr.

Averaged 44.8 yards on 11 kicks and dropped four inside Kansas State 20-yard line

Coach

Mac McWhorter

Georgia Tech

Interim coach beats Stanford, loses job; losing Cardinal coach Tyrone Willingham wins Notre Dame job. Go figure

At a practice before the GMAC Bowl, Marshall quarterback Byron Leftwich (left) put on the number 45 jersey of tight end Gregg Kellett, went onto the field and began to mimic his teammate, a weight-room junkie who's constantly stretching. Given that Leftwich is 6'6" and 240 pounds and Kellett is 6'3", 260, the quarterback looks more like a tight end than Kellett does. "When I got to Marshall, I was 6'4", 190," Leftwich says. "Hopefully I'll stop growing. If I don't, I'm going to work on my drop step."

Basketball will have to wait. After a junior season in which Leftwich accounted for 38 passing touchdowns, 4,132 yards through the air, seven interceptions and no Heisman buzz, he used the bowl against East Carolina in Mobile to qualify for a middle lane in next year's Heisman race. He threw for 576 yards—the highest total of any quarterback in this year's postseason—and four touchdowns and brought the Thundering Herd back from a 38-8 halftime deficit to win 64-61 in two overtimes. Let the buzz begin.

Leftwich, who completed 41 of 70 passes, says he has no interest in leaving early for the NFL. Given this year's quarterback-heavy draft, that makes sense. Still, scouts know who he is. Leftwich, a Washington, D.C., native, certainly passes their eyeball test. He has the size to see over the blitz and the durability to withstand hits. His arm is every bit as strong as it looks. On the day before the GMAC, Marshall coach Bob Pruett watched Leftwich stand at the goal line in Ladd-Peebles Stadium, take two steps and heave the bail to a teammate at the far 30-yard line. "Seventy yards," Pruett said, the grin of a lottery winner on his face. "He's just floating it. I had him throwing the ball into a trash can 50 yards away; it hit the rim and went in."

Size and a terrific arm aren't Leftwich's only assets. His analytical mind shows up in the major he chose, management information systems, as well as in his ability to read defenses. "A lot of guys can do it on the blackboard, but how many can do it in five seconds, standing behind the center?" Marshall offensive coordinator Ed Zaunbrecher says.

Against East Carolina, Leftwich led a comeback that appeared would end triumphantly with seven seconds to play in regulation. That's when he threw an 11-yard fade to Darius Watts to tie the game, but Curtis Head missed the ensuing extra-point attempt, sending the game into overtime at 51-51.

The late heroics and two overtime scoring drives came after a fourth-quarter hit by a Pirates defender had deposited Leftwich hard on his backside. Following the victory he sat gingerly on a bench in the locker room and began to undress. "Seventy attempts!" a manager gushed. "You want ice for that elbow?"

"The elbow ain't hurting," Leftwich said. "It's the butt. Man, I'm tired."

[This article contains a table. Please see hardcopy of magazine or PDF.]

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