USC quarterback selected as first recipient

Updated: February 22, 2005, 10:31 PM ET
Associated Press

NEW ORLEANS -- University of Southern California quarterback Matt Leinart accepted the first annual Manning Award from Nokia Sugar Bowl officials Tuesday night.

The Manning Award, designated for the nation's top college quarterback, is named in honor of one of the state's most popular football families: former Saints quarterback Archie Manning and his sons Peyton and Eli, who are both now quarterbacks in the NFL.

"It's an honor to be selected the inaugural Manning Award winner," Leinart said. "It's a surreal moment. I grew up watching these guys play and now I finally get to meet them. It's also a special moment for me because I get to enjoy this with my family."

Leinart, also the Heisman Trophy winner for two-time defending national champion Southern Cal, was selected in voting by a media panel, the Mannings and a former Sugar Bowl MVP quarterback.

Copyright 2005 by The Associated Press