By: Meghan White, NBCSports.com
(Feb. 5, 2007) - As the No. 2 high school quarterback recruit in the Class of 2007, Ryan Mallett, a Michigan commitment, will be gunning for the spotlight, trying to beat out Jimmy Clausen as the nation's top freshman this fall. Both will be looking to take their place at schools with strong quarterback traditions. Clausen, most notably, aiming to replace Notre Dame's No. 10, Brady Quinn. In honor of that fight, let's connect these two in 10 steps, with the help of....The Da Vinci Code.
Ryan Mallett: With arguably the strongest arm coming out of high school, Mallett hails from Texarkana, Texas. Scout.com ranks Mallett as the No. 2 quarterback, with a five star rating. The report is that his arm strength and presence of both on and off-the-field brains makes him a top prospect. His mobility is a question mark. Although he has verbally committed to Michigan, Mallett drew interest from Alabama, Florida State, and USC, and received an offer from LSU. Had he accepted LSU's offer, he would have been trying to replace the departing JaMarcus Russell.
JaMarcus Russell: A talented quarterback out of Williamson High School in Mobile, Al, Russell went to LSU as the all-time passing leader in Alabama high school history, having more than 10,000 yards and 84 touchdowns. At LSU, Russell won the starting spot at the end of his freshman season (after redshirting in 2003). In 2005, he led the Tigers to a 10-1 regular season record, but injured his shoulder in a loss to Georgia for the SEC Championship, and missed the bowl game. In 2006, he led LSU to a 10-2 record and a berth in the Sugar Bowl against Notre Dame. LSU won, 41-14, and Russell was named the Allstate Sugar Bowl MVP, an award won 15 year's previously by Notre Dame's Jerome Bettis.
Jerome Bettis: A first-round pick in the 1993 NFL Draft (10th overall) by the Los Angeles Rams, Bettis played three seasons with them, before spending 10 seasons with the Pittsburgh Steelers. Nicknamed the Bus, many people think he acquired this named from Steelers radio color commentator Myron Cope. Bettis credits someone at Notre Dame's school newspaper with first using the moniker. After the Steelers lost in the AFC Championship Game in 2004, Bettis considered retirement, but was persuaded to return for one final season. Bettis and the Steelers went on the win Super Bowl XL in Bettis' hometown of Detroit. Bettis now lends his football expertise to NBC Sports as a studio analyst on Football Night in America. He also guest starred in NBC's The Office, with Steve Carell.
Steve Carell: Who would have thought Steve Carell began his career as a mail carrier? After quitting because he was "very, very bad at it," he joined the Chicago comedy troupe The Second City in 1991. There he met Stephen Colbert, who was his understudy, and met his wife SNL alum Nancy Walls. After spots in The Dana Carvey Show and providing the voice of Gary in SNL's "The Ambiguously Gay Duo," Carell became a correspondent for The Daily Show. Now he is best known for playing Michael Scott on The Office, but he has been successful in film, starring in movies such as Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy, The 40-Year Old Virgin, and Little Miss Sunshine. Carell has become a member of Hollywood's Frat Pack, which includes Jack Black, Will Ferrell, Vince Vaughn and Ben Stiller.
Ben Stiller: The son of Jerry Stiller and Anne Meara, Still began his career in Broadway's The House of Blue Leaves. After a few stints in mockumentary film, Stiller got the attention of SNL and was offered a spot as a writer in 1989. The film that skyrocketed Stiller's career was 1998's There's Something About Mary. In 2000, he played Gaylord Focker in Meet the Parents. A year late,r he directed and starred in his best film Zoolander. Released two weeks after the Sept. 11, attacks, images of the World Trade Center had to be digitally removed. One of the first comedies to be released after the attacks, the movie's box office was hurt due to the timing. In Oliver Stone's World Trade Center, a poster for Zoolander can be seen in the background of a scene. This movie starred Nicolas Cage.
Nicolas Cage: Born Nicolas Kim Coppola, he attended the same high school as Angelina Jolie, Lenny Kravitz, Rob Reiner, and David Schwimmer, Cage began acting in school. As the nephew of Francis Ford Coppola, he changed his name to Cage to avoid being accused of nepotism. He made his film debut in Fast Times at Ridgemont High. He has twice been nominated for an Academy Award and won once for Best Actor in Leaving Las Vegas. In 2004, he starred in National Treasure, about searching for a lost treasure, which has aspects similar to The Da Vinci Code in the plot.
The Da Vinci Code: This mystery novel written by Dan Brown was published in 2003. The controversial subject of conspiracy within the Roman Catholic Church regarding the true story of Jesus has sold more than 60.5 million copies (as of May 2006). The success of the book led to the development of the film adaptation. The film starred Tom Hanks as Robert Langdon and was released on May 19, 2006, which is the date Archie Manning celebrated his 57th birthday.
Archie Manning: A star at the University of Mississippi, Manning threw for 436 yards and three touchdowns and rushed for 104 yards in a 33-32 loss to Alabama in the first national prime-time broadcast of a college football game in 1969. As the second overall selection in the 1971 NFL draft by the New Orleans Saints, he played there until 1982, where he then spent time with the Houston Oilers and then the Minnesota Vikings before retiring after the 1983-84 season. In his 13-year career, he passed for 23,911 yards, 125 touchdowns, and threw 173 interceptions. His 2011 completions ranked 17th in NFL history when he retired. In 1989, he was elected to the College Football Hall of Fame, the same year Donny Anderson was.
Donny Anderson: The No. 7 pick in the 1965 NFL draft out of Texas Tech by the Packers, Anderson spent nine years in the NFL. He spent six seasons as No. 44 for Green Bay before playing his final three season with the St. Louis Cardinals. He was nicknamed "The Golden Palomino" and has a place in the College Football Hall of Fame in South Bend. The same city "The kid with the golden arm" calls home now, quarterback Jimmy Clausen.
Jimmy Clausen: Coming out of Oaks Christian High School, Clausen graduated a semester early and entered Notre Dame in January 2007. He is one of the candidates gunning to replace Quinn as starting quarterback for the Fighting Irish. He is one of the most highly touted recruits for the Irish since Ron Powlus in 1993. Clausen finished his college career undefeated as a started (42-0) and holds the California state record for career touchdown passes (146). He threw for 10,677 yards in his career at Oaks Christian Academy and capped his senior season with his school's third straight Division III state title. Clausen looks to join the Irish in a successful 2007 season, aiming to redeem themselves against rivals such as USC and Michigan, whose roster will have freshman Ryan Mallett on it.