Senior Bowl QBs bring proven track records

Friday, January 28th 2005, 1:15 pm
By: News On 6

MOBILE, Ala. (AP) _ Jason Campbell won more games than any college quarterback who didn't get a national championship and Charlie Frye won more than any quarterback who didn't go to a bowl game.

And David Greene? He won more games than any Division I-A quarterback ever.

The Senior Bowl on Saturday won't feature any passers destined for the No. 1 overall pick as it has twice in the past three years _ juniors Alex Smith and Aaron Rodgers are regarded as the top two quarterbacks available in this year's draft.

But the group does bring some pretty good track records.

Campbell led Auburn to a 13-0 record and a No. 2 final ranking as a senior, burying three seasons where he was frequently criticized and transforming himself into a legitimate NFL prospect in the process.

``The guy's a talent. Jason Campbell is a talented guy,'' said Tampa Bay's Jon Gruden, who will coach Campbell and Greene for the South team. ``He's big, he's strong, he's athletic. He's got a powerful arm and he's a sincerely committed guy.

``I think he's got a chance to be something else. He's got a charisma about him that the players like. He's really impressed me.''

While Campbell's Tigers were left out of the national championship picture, Frye's Akron Zips just wanted a bowl trip, any bowl trip. They were the only eligible team that didn't get a postseason invitation.

Frye set 11 school marks and is one of only six quarterbacks in NCAA history to throw for more than 10,000 yards and rush for at least 400. But he lacks the name recognition of Campbell, Greene and North teammate Kyle Orton of Purdue.

Heck, Frye's not even as well-known as Matt Jones of Arkansas, and Jones is playing receiver in the game instead of quarterback.

``Ever since I've been recruited, I've always had a chip on my shoulder because a lot of the big schools didn't recruit me,'' he said. ``And not being able to go to a bowl game _ the only team left out _ you just use that as something that's going to drive you even deeper.''

Georgia's Greene won a major college record 42 games as a starting quarterback and is the Southeastern Conference's alltime leader in passing yards and total offense.

He's hoping those credentials will overcome whatever doubts NFL teams might have.

``I'm not a flashy quarterback,'' said Greene, who was 15-2 in road games. ``I'm not one that has the strongest arm or can run the fastest. I tend to think I've been on good teams and made good decisions and tried to protect the ball and put my team in position where we could win.''

Some projections have Frye as the only senior quarterback who will be a first-round pick in April's draft. In the past three years, Fresno State's David Carr (Houston) and Southern California's Carson Palmer (Cincinnati) played in the Senior Bowl en route to the No. 1 overall pick.

Then again, the Patriots' Tom Brady was a sixth-rounder in 2000.

``We're not concerned if there's a high draft pick,'' said Oakland Raiders coach Norv Turner, leading the North team. ``We always look at guys and say, 'Hey, can this guy play, can he help a team?'''

The game's other quarterbacks are Miami's Brock Berlin (South) and Connecticut's Dan Orlovsky (North).

Orton and Campbell are both hoping their collegiate ups and downs helped prepare them for the NFL.

The previously maligned Campbell finally became a star under Al Borges, the fourth offensive coordinator of his Auburn career.

``I try to keep a positive mind about everything and stay confident,'' said Campbell, the SEC's offensive player of the year. ``You're not always going to be up, and when you're down you've got to respond.

``It all comes with the territory as a quarterback.''

Orton, meanwhile, was widely considered the Heisman Trophy frontrunner early in the season, throwing for 17 touchdowns without an interception in the first four games.

Then, with Orton hampered by a hip injury, the Boilermakers lost four straight games.

``That's the way it goes sometimes,'' said Orton, who had a 522-yard, six-touchdown game against Indiana. ``You're on top one moment and on the bottom the other moment. That's the way it is when you play this position. It didn't bother me a whole lot.

``I've been through a lot of adversity in college. Obviously you don't want to go through it but every quarterback's going to go through it.''