THIBODAUX — The Manning Passing Academy may take place in Southeastern Conference country, but several quarterbacks from the West Coast gave this year’s Manning Passing Academy a Pac-12 flavor.
Nine players from the Pac-12 were in attendance, including two from UCLA (Brett Hundley and Mike Fafaul) and two from Oregon (Marcus Mariota and Jeff Lockie).
Other quarterbacks from the Pac-12 in attendance were: Washington State’s Connor Halliday, Oregon State’s Sean Mannion, USC’s Cody Kessler, Colorado’s Sefu Liufau and Stanford’s Kevin Hogan.
“You look around the room and there should be six quarterbacks in the Pac-12 to get drafted, and Marcus (Mariota) might be the first pick,” Halliday said. “I just think that’s one thing that doesn’t get enough play. Last year we were in the argument for best conference in the nation. Obviously the SEC is always going to be up there, but I feel like we were at least in the conversation.”
“I think the Pac-12 is a great conference,” Mannion said. “I haven’t played any SEC teams. Obviously their success speaks for itself with all the national championships. What impresses me about the Pac-12 is how good it is from top to bottom. Every game presents a challenge. I know being a quarterback in this conference, it’s special to me because of the long track record of quarterbacks in the Pac-12. I think every school has someone they can point to and say, ‘Hey, he played here.’ From a quarterback standpoint, I think it’s as good as anywhere.”
Beating the heat
Temple quarterback P.J. Walker hasn’t been to the South much.
He has been to Tennessee and to Georgia.
But those two trips didn’t prepare the Elizabeth, New Jersey, native for what he was in store for this weekend.
“This is my third time in the South, but this weather today is something different,” Walker said Friday. “It’s hot and humid. A lot of guys from school who are from the South had been telling me how hot it was going to be. This is a different type of heat. It’s ridiculous. But it’s cool. You just have to stay hydrated.”
Repping the Big Ten
Michigan quarterback Devin Gardner knows he comes from a conference that isn’t known for throwing the ball as much as some of his Manning Passing Academy counterparts from the SEC and the Pac-12.
“They throw it every down and we like to run the ball a lot,” he said with a laugh. “But it’s cool. I am here to represent the Big Ten.”
But for Gardner, he is getting much more out of the camp than just learning the finer points of passing.
“I’m in grad school for social work, so just getting to work with the young guys has been special to me,” Gardner said. “I want to use football to try to help change lives. I feel like I am working on that right now It’s just like I am in class right now. Then I am going to class again when I work with Peyton for football. It’s just an overall great learning experience.”