He's the kind of kid every parent wants, the kind of student ever teacher praises, the kind of player every coach loves.
Little boys gaze at Danny Wuerffel with adoration, adults reach out to touch him. And the 23-year-old Wuerffel has a moment for everyone, a hand shake, a direct smile, an arm around a shoulder for a picture.
The New Orleans Saints' newest quarterback had yet to throw his first NFL pass, but next to Coach Mike Ditka, he's was already the biggest star on the team (Wuerffel completed four of seven passes for 65 yards and a touchdown in a 21-12 victory against Tennesse in the Saints' exhibition opener last week).
"He's had a lot more attention than most fourth-round draft picks get," Saints public relations director Greg Bensel said. "And he's handled it beautifully. He's just very nice and very, very cooperative with everyone."
Wuerffel, who looks like an overgrown 12-year-old with his mop of blond hair, pug nose and direct blue eyes, won the Heisman Trophy and enough other athletic honors to start his own hall of fame. He led Florida to a national college championship and set nearly four dozen NCAA, Southeastern Conference or school records, becoming the first quarterback to play a major role in four straight SEC titles.
On top of that he hit the academic honor rolls for the SEC every year, earned CFA Scholar-Athlete Team honors and Academic All-American accolades with a 3.68 GPA at Florida.
Wuerffel, the son of an Air Force chaplain, has stayed serene whether he's being pounded by opposing defenses, being berated by a high-pressure coach, or besieged by fans and media.
"He comes off a little bit as 'goody two shoes' but not too much," said rookie wide receiver Keith Pool, Wuerffel's roommate at training camp. "He's a great guy. I thought he was going to be a tough roommate just being so religious, but he's great. He's down to earth. He knows how everyone is, he's just one of the guys."
Forget the flash, the mirrored sunglasses, the bad-boy image that many young stars embrace. Wuerffel's style is more an "aw shucks" modesty.
Wuerffel, who begged Florida's sports information staff not to put him on the cover of the Gators' media guide, sits through interviews and photo sessions quietly answering questions and complying with requests but appearing slightly uncomfortable.
"Football is such a team sport that it doesn't really seem right to single out one person as being more important than anyone else," Wuerffel said. "I know that's how reporters have to work, so I want to help, but I feel I'm just a small part of why things happen on the field."
About the only people who haven't liked Wuerffel were the pro football scouts who, despite his outstanding college career, dubbed him an unlikely candidate for NFL stardom.
His success at Florida was due to Steve Spurrier's system, critics said. They claimed Wuerffel's arm was weak, his delivery odd, and that his phenomenal accuracy with the Gators would end when he went against pro secondaries with much greater speed.
"All I can tell you is when he's got the ball, he gets it where it has to go," said Saints quarterback coach Tom Clements. "You can look like the perfect quarterback but unless you win, who cares. Danny has always been a winner and I don't see anything that will keep him from being one in the NFL."
To get playing time this season, Wuerffel will have to battle Heath Shuler, whom the Saints obtained in a trade with Washington. Shuler, the third overall pick in the 1994 draft, was a disappointment with the Redskins.
When Mike Ditka drafted Wuerffel, he compared him with Jim McMahon, who led the Chicago Bears to the championship in 1985. Since watching him at training camp, Ditka is even more impressed with his rookie quarterback than he was on draft day.
"He has great vision," Ditka said. "He has great command. He understands the offense as well as any of those guys right now. And when he doesn't, he asks questions. Sometimes the questions he asks make us think about what we're doing wrong."
In fact, Wuerffel has analyzed offensive plays to the point he's made the coaches aware of design flaws, offensive coordinator Danny Abramowicz said.
"He'll say, 'Coach, we can't do that the way it's drawn up,"' Abramowicz said. "You know, sometimes when you script that many plays, you might make a mistake. Well, he's so sharp he picks that up on the script."
Despite making rookie mistakes, Wuerffel has tremendous savvy, Abramowicz said.
"He already knows things that you just can't teach," Abramowicz said. "Things like dropping back and then stepping up in the pocket, where some guys might be around a couple of years and still not know that. And once you tell him about something, he doesn't repeat that mistake."
If Wuerffel is an overachiever and unlikely star, he's also a realist. Even with the attention and adulation, he has few illusions about his celebrity. Even while the fans crowd around, he said he realizes that fame fades sooner or later for everyone.
"Some people think they'll get to the top and stay on a plateau," Wuerffel said. "I think it's more a bell-curve. You ride it up and then back down."