Lane Kiffin praises Andrew Luck

LOS ANGELES -- USC head coach Lane Kiffin is very fond of Stanford quarterback Andrew Luck.

So fond, in fact, he has compared him favorably this week to the top all-time quarterbacks in college football history, including the likes of John Elway, Tommie Frazier, Matt Leinart and Peyton Manning.

Kiffin says Luck might be better than all of them.

"I don't know how you could find a more efficient quarterback that's ever played college football," Kiffin said Tuesday. "If you put his numbers up, what he's done, wins and losses and red-zone production. ... He's pretty much perfect."

Asked later if he really meant what he said and wasn't just trying to hype up USC's opponent this week, Kiffin stood by it.

"I do believe that, and I'm not the only one," he said. "People have been saying that for two years. You hear draft people say that he's the best quarterback prospect since Elway. You had a team come out and say before he declared that he was going to be the No. 1 pick in the draft.

"I can't imagine that's been said many times, ever."

Luck, a redshirt junior, has completed nearly 72 percent of his passes in his seven starts this season, throwing for 1,888 yards with 20 touchdowns and just three interceptions. He has also carried the ball 16 times for 83 yards and a touchdown.

He could have left for the NFL after last season and was almost guaranteed to be the No. 1 overall pick. But he chose to come back for his senior year of college. He could technically return for his fifth year next season, but he said at Pac-12 media day in July that this would be his final season.

Now, this year, Luck is considered a Heisman favorite and once again the likely No. 1 overall pick. He's been receiving tons of praise from opponents all year long, and the Trojans aren't treating him any differently.

In passing Tuesday, Kiffin called him "one of the best ever to play," and Kiffin's father, Monte, the Trojans' defensive play-caller, called Luck "one of the best quarterbacks ever."

Lane Kiffin mentioned Elway, but he also compared Luck to some of the other top signal-callers to play college football without mentioning them -- and compared him favorably.

"I think what takes him from the 10 great quarterbacks, what sets him apart, from the majority of them, is his ability to run," Lane Kiffin said. "He's a great athlete, and that's why he's perfect."

Pedro Moura covers USC for ESPNLosAngeles.com.