USC QB Leinart plans to return in 2005

Updated: January 2, 2005, 3:31 PM ET
SportsTicker

By Aaron Rennie SportsTicker College Football Editor

MIAMI - As casually as he delivers touchdown strikes from the pocket, Southern California quarterback Matt Leinart matter-of-factly gave his strongest indication yet that he plans on returning for his senior season.

Leinart, who won the Heisman Trophy on December 11 after passing for 2990 yards and 28 TDs against just six interceptions this season, was asked on Media Day about the Trojans' amazing recent run, one that has seen them win 35 games over the past three seasons - the winningest such stretch in the storied program's history.

As an unproven sophomore last season - his first replacing Heisman-winning signal-caller Carson Palmer - Leinart led the Trojans to a 12-1 record, a Rose Bowl victory over Michigan and a share of the national championship. This year, the Trojans (12-0) went wire-to-wire as the top-ranked team in the land and can win the national title outright.

"It's something special going on at USC," Leinart said. "The scary thing to think of is that we're pretty much going to have our whole team coming back next year."

Star tailbacks LenDale White and Reggie Bush - another Heisman finalist - are just sophomores; starting receivers Steve Smith and Dwayne Jarrett are a sophomore and a freshman, respectively; and four of the five starting offensive linemen will return.

"Obviously, there's a lot of speculation on what I'm gonna do, but I still plan on coming back," Leinart said. "One of those reasons is because what kind of team we're gonna have, and to possibly get to three national championship games in a row and possibly win three in a row is something that's never been done.

"We don't want to think too far ahead but we have such a young and talented team, and with recruits coming in again, it's going to be pretty fun to watch us next year."

It certainly would be for USC fans if Leinart were to return.

This story is from ESPN.com's automated news wire. Wire index