Manuel Looking to Compete

E.J. Manuel was Florida State's crown jewel of the 2008 recruiting class. The former 5-star quarterback was in town this past weekend to take in the Seminoles' spring game and to make a visit to the school he'll call home come June. NoleDigest caught up with Manuel to get his thoughts on the game and talk about what he's been up to since Signing Day.

E.J. Manuel's decision to attend Florida State was huge for the program. Quarterback has been an Achilles heel for the Noles since the departure of Chris Weinke, so landing a player the caliber of Manuel was a major coup for the coaches. Since his senior season of football ended E.J. has been dedicated to the weightroom and to getting ready to compete at FSU.

"I've been working out and getting ready to come here. After Signing Day I got my playbook and I've been reading that every day. The playbook was what I thought it would be. People say in college and the pros that the playbook is different. I've gotten it down pretty well, and if I have any questions I usually call up coach Fisher for some help. He's been pretty good answering them when I have them. I've just been working hard, man. I'm up to 220 pounds and I've been adding good weight. I want to make sure I don't lose my speed so I can have that added dimension to my game. Pretty much all I do every day is work out, watch film and read my playbook. I'm just ready to compete."

E.J. wanted to come to the spring game because he wanted to spend a weekend in Florida and get more of a feel for what to expect when he gets to FSU. He says he had a great time and that he was happy he made the trip down.

"I had a great visit this weekend. I got to hang out with Myron Rolle and spend a lot of time with him. He is someone I really look up to. I got to meet a lot of the players and got to see both Nigel's and Terrance Parks again. I spent some time with Lonnie Pryor. I like him. He was telling me how FSU is still his #1 school and all that. I didn't want to press him because I know how I felt when I was making those unofficial visits. I was telling him and the other guys to take their time, and they'll know when they feel it that they are ready. I talked to a couple more people like Xavier Rhodes, too. They were real receptive to what I was saying because I'm a little older and they know me through the recruiting services; they know I won't steer them wrong. I was telling them I wanted them to join me so we can win some National Championships at Florida State."

Manuel got a different view of the spring game then most, as he was able to stand on the offensive sidelines and listen in to what coach Fisher was saying and doing.

"I had fun at the game because I got to stand with the players and listen in to what was going on. I was standing with Drew Weatherford, listening to the play calls. I was watching and listening to Coach Fisher. He is a fiery guy. He wants you to be perfect, and he coaches you to be as good as you can be. He'll get after you if you make a wrong play, but he is quick to praise you when you do it right. That is what you want in a coach. Standing with Drew was cool because they were relaying the plays to him. He was teaching me a lot because he knows the plays. He was telling me what to watch for. I know the plays pretty well, and he was telling me what I need to focus on coming in is the protections, knowing where people are supposed to block and all that. It was a good crowd and a good experience for me."

"I thought Christian (Ponder) and D'Vontrey (Richardson) both played a great game. There were a couple dropped passes, but I think they'll get that cleaned up by September. They were short a few linemen, and you could tell they were tired, but guys like Rodney Hudson and Antwane Greenlee really stood out to me."

People close to the program have compared E.J. to Myron because of their maturity and ability to be leaders on and off the field. Manuel stayed with Rolle on his visit this past weekend, and they continued to strengthen their bond. Also, they came to an agreement that they were going to share jersey numbers.

"I went out with Myron and spent a good amount of time with him. Like I said, I look up to him. With Brandon Paul wearing number 8, I talked with Myron and made sure it was okay I wore number 3. I didn't want to bombard him with it, but he was cool with it. I'm happy about that because I've worn the same number since junior high."

With graduation approaching, Manuel has his sights set on getting to FSU in June. He told NoleDigest that he plans to get to Tallahassee permanently 5 days after he graduates high school.

"I graduate June 11th, and I will be here on the 16th. Summer school starts on the 22nd, so there is not time to waste. I'm looking to get in here and compete. I want to come in and be ready to go. I am going to do what is best for me and the team, but I don't plan to come in and redshirt. I'm not thinking in that way. I just cannot wait to get here and get this thing going."

Stay tuned to NoleDigest for further updates with E.J. and the rest of the visitors from this past weekends Garnet and Gold game.

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