Matt Leinart might be down, but he says he's definitely not out.
The former USC quarterback, who won the Heisman Trophy in 2004 and helped the Trojans to successive national championships, told the Daily Trojan in a story published Monday that he has a lot more football in him despite not throwing a pass as the Houston Texans' third-string quarterback last season. That was quite a comedown for a player taken 10th overall in the 2006 NFL Draft by the Arizona Cardinals.
"Houston helped me get my confidence back, being around great coaches and a great team," said Leinart, who landed with the Texans after being cut by the Cardinals and now is a free agent. "It has jump-started me this offseason.
"I am not going to give up. I am not going to say it has been unfair, but I am just hoping for the opportunity to come."
Leinart made his remarks at a campus panel discussion, "For The Good Of The Game: The NFL At A Crossroads," that also included New York Jets quarterback Mark Sanchez, another former Trojan, and sports agent Leigh Steinberg.
Leinart remains confident in his ability to be an NFL starter despite pedestrian career numbers -- 20 interceptions, 14 touchdown passes and no more than eight appearances in any season.
"My career has been like a roller-coaster," Leinart said. "You never know what is going to happen next."
What he'd like to happen next is receive an opportunity to start somewhere. With several teams in the market for a quarterback, it's not outside the realm of possibility that the sixth-year pro will have a chance to compete for a job.
"A lot of football is about being in the right situation at the right time with the right kind of people," said Leinart, who endured a coaching change in Arizona from Dennis Green to Ken Whisenhunt, then watched Kurt Warner come in and lead the Cardinals to Super Bowl XLIII. "People get so few opportunities in the NFL. They do not come around very often."