|Thursday, December 26
Updated: December 30, 10:24 AM ET
All even entering the home stretch
By Chris Leak with Wayne Drehs
Special to ESPN.com
I have no idea what I'm going to do.
Less than two weeks remain until my nationally televised oral commitment at halftime of the U.S. Army All-American Bowl and I just don't know where I want to go.
The last few weeks have been a whirlwind, from the state championship to the Shrine Bowl to an overnight, private jet visit to Iowa. And my mind still isn't made up.
The questions run through my head: Is USC too far from home? Will the Iowa coaching staff be around four years? Is Rex Grossman staying or going? What's up with the quarterback situation at Florida State? How long will Norm Chow stay at Southern Cal?
Nothing is certain. The only thing I do know is that I won't be going to Tennessee. Other than that, I'm taking the next few days to talk to the coaches, weigh the plusses and minuses of each school and listen to what my heart tells me.
As I've said from the beginning, that will be the ultimate factor -- what my instincts tell me.
Leading up to San Antonio and the U.S. Army All-American Bowl, life has been and will continue to be hectic. After the state championship two weeks ago, which we won, 41-20, I began two-a-days for the Shrine Bowl. We won that game, 28-0 and I was named Most Valuable Player. A great honor. Earlier this week, I was also named USA Today National Player of the Year.
Right after the Shrine Bowl, my Dad whisked me to the Rocky Hill, South Carolina airport where a private jet was waiting to take me to Iowa.
I got to Iowa City Saturday night and immediately went to dinner with Brad Banks at this steakhouse called the Lark. Brad was great. Hanging with him was as comfortable as talking to my brother.
After dinner, I headed back to the hotel and went right to sleep. I was exhausted. After breakfast, I went and watched the team go through its final Iowa City preparations for the Orange Bowl. Iowa had great facilities, the nice bubble. I went through all the offices, met the strength coach, the academic advisors, and hung in the weight room.
For lunch I ate with some coaches at Lone Star. On this visit, it was all steak. Sirloin steak. I guess that's what you'd expect in the Midwest. And I didn't mind one bit.
The coaches were talking a lot about the standing ovation that Tommy Zbikowski got the week before on his visit to a Hawkeye basketball game, and they said they wanted to take me to a game, but there wasn't enough time.
Just getting this visit to happen was difficult. On Sunday after the Shrine Bowl, I was scheduled to appear in Atlanta on a television program, "Countdown to Signing Day." Well, the Iowa coaches worked it out with the producers for the show to push the filming back to Monday so I could come to Iowa Saturday night and Sunday.
Needless to say, Iowa coaches crammed a 48-hour visit into 24 hours. I was pretty busy. One thing came right after another. But I felt pretty special that the coaches would make all these changes and adjust their schedules and work with a TV network to change their plans just so I could visit.
After lunch, I headed over to coach Ferentz's house, where I met his wife and kids. He's got a nice house too. All these cats running around. Like five of them. Running around, hiding everywhere. I ate dinner with him and we really talked. Just like regular people talk. After that, coach took me to the airport and I was on my way back home.
Overall, Iowa definitely has a chance. It's a legitimate option. One of the things I liked best was the town -- not too small, but not too big. It was sort of quiet, but you could tell that everybody loves Iowa football. That's their professional team.
A week earlier, we won the state championship -- our third in three years -- wasn't nearly as easy to clinch as everyone thought. In fact, we led just 21-20 late in the third quarter. But we made some adjustments; mainly the coaches encouraged me to scramble more if the linebackers continued to drop into coverage. It worked. I broke open a few runs and that kept the defense honest.
After the game, the reporters wanted to know if this title felt any different than the other two. And honestly, you can't really tell the difference. I would think the first one was the most exciting, since it was the first time doing that, but you really can't tell. All of them have their great points.
With this one, I'll remember my run in the third quarter, in which I took off and flipped over two dudes to get a first down. That's one of the memories that will stick with me.
As for my final recruiting decision, who knows what it's going to be. I'm confident I'll be ready to go when Jan. 5 rolls around, though. Especially now since I got to Iowa. But my mind is not made up. All the schools are so good -- right now, it's pretty even with everybody in my top 5.
There are a couple other reasons I can't wait for San Antonio. For one, I'm dying to meet people like Tommy and the rest of the recruits -- guys I've heard about all year long and finally get to see.
On top of that, there's the game. It's a big deal. A national deal. You're talking live TV. In the Alamo Dome. It's a major motivator to go out there and do your best against the best. That's what you want.
Ask Chris Leak
Chris Leak: I mean, if you look at that offense, there's no doubt a quarterback can go in there and, if you operate the offense well enough, win the Heisman. It proves it can be done. Then you think about playing in Los Angeles, with all that big time publicity and everything. You know that if you play well and produce good numbers, they're going to write about you and that's a real big advantage as a quarterback. However, to answer your question, USC was already a top team on my list, before Carson won the award.
Would Florida move up in priority if Grossman was to leave early? Good luck with your decision.
Chris Leak: Well that's if Rex early. I guess that would open up more doors. But then again, if he stayed, I could learn the system under him. It works either way, you never know. He stays and you got a pretty good teacher.?
Iowa was the only school you are considering with a frigid winter. Having grown up in North Carolina, how much did that bone chilling cold bother you on your visit and will it play a part in your decision at all?
Chris Leak: It's football weather. When you're on the field, it's really not cold. I see that as football weather, you just out there playing. You're not thinking about the weather. I guess walking to class might be cold, but there are other things to worry about.
First off congrats on the three-peat and four great years at Indy. I was at the state championship game this past weekend and I was one surprised and impressed. I have a comment and a question. The comment is I was impressed on how you kept composure and seemed to get more and more pumped every time New Bern got to you. My question is I noticed in warm-ups that you throw very well with both hands. When and where did you learn how to do it? I saw that and I was amazed. Do you sometimes switch it up during the game for certain situations??
Chris Leak: It's something I started working on this summer with my Dad. There's always a point in football, when you're rolling out to your left, you can't get your shoulders switched and squared to your target, so it can't hurt to be able to throw with that left. I guess I'd say I'm getting ready for that moment. As I see it, it's a gift God gave me so I'm going to take advantage it.
Send in your questions and Chris will answer a few in his next diary.
ESPN.com is following quarterback Chris Leak on his journey from high school to the college ranks. Leak is writing a diary about his recruitment, and there will be weekly updates on the recruiting process through Signing Day on Feb. 5, 2003.