SENIOR BOWL Rivers returns home to play
He turned down Auburn and Alabama to play for North Carolina State.
MOBILE, Ala. (AP) -- In these parts, Philip Rivers is known as the one who got away -- the quarterback who spurned Auburn and Alabama for North Carolina State.
Well, he's back.
Rivers, who became one of the most prolific passers in NCAA history, will finally play in his home state again in today's Senior Bowl, a showcase for NFL prospects.
"People are saying, 'I can't believe Alabama and Auburn let you get out of here,' " said Rivers, emphasizing that the Wolfpack was always high on his list.
Plays for South
Rivers, who will play for the South, headlines a quarterback group that includes Virginia's Matt Schaub and Tulane's J.P. Losman. Michigan's John Navarre, Washington's Cody Pickett and Bowling Green's Josh Harris will play for the North.
Even though most are regarded as legitimate NFL prospects, the game will be missing the top two -- Mississippi's Eli Manning declined an invitation, and Miami of Ohio's Ben Roethlisberger was a junior.
Rivers and the others get their chance to impress the pro scouts.
"While it is somewhat of a comparison, I think they want to see you and what you can do," said Rivers, an Athens, Ala., native whose 13,484 career yards trail only BYU's Ty Detmer in the NCAA record books. "Those two guys are great players and will do well wherever they end up being taken. I don't necessarily get too caught up in all that."
Asked what questions NFL teams had about him, Losman said, "There's no question marks, just can he do what he does on the field, can he do what everyone says he does? I don't have to prove anything, just that I can do it. That's about it."
While his five quarterback counterparts are considered prototypical dropback passers, Harris is anything but. He passed for 3,813 yards, rushed for 830 and accounted for 40 touchdowns as a senior.
"It sets me apart," Harris said. "I just have to show everybody that I can drop back. I'm not just a runner; I am a drop-back quarterback."
Rivers wants to keep showing that his unorthodox, sidearm throwing motion isn't a liability.
"Throwing motion was the one thing that gets brought up most, and I think gradually each year the talk about that in a negative way has decreased," said Rivers, the nation's highest rated passer and the ACC Player of the Year.
"I don't think that's going to be as big a deal as it was once perceived to be. But if it comes up and the team that I end up wants to work on it, I'm going to be willing to do whatever it takes to keep on playing."
Rivers turned down a scholarship offer from Alabama, which already had quarterbacks Andrew Zow and Tyler Watts. Auburn already had a commitment from current starter Jason Campbell, and wanted to look at Rivers at tight end or strong safety.
South coach Marty Schottenheimer of the San Diego Chargers was familiar with Rivers even before arriving in Mobile. Schottenheimer was on a hiatus from coaching at his Charlotte home during Rivers' freshman season, "and you read about him all the time during the fall in the local paper."
"I think that he's really an interesting prospect," Schottenheimer said.