Manuel looking to compete

When E.J. Manuel came to Florida State as a freshman, he was fourth on the depth chart and rarely saw snaps even in practice. Now, the former five-star recruit is second on the depth chart and competing for playing time this season. The Virginia Beach native has impressed in his first few days but is it enough to push Christian Ponder for the starting job?

When E.J. Manuel arrived on campus at Florida State, he found himself watching three upperclassmen battle for the starting job at quarterback and never had a real chance to earn early playing time. Since his arrival, two of the three quarterbacks ahead of him are no longer on roster. Drew Weatherford has graduated and D'Vontrey Richardson has decided to pursue a career in professional baseball.

Manuel will be a redshirt freshman this season

Manuel came in that first year determined to compete and dismissed any chance of him taking a red shirt as a freshman. Weeks passed and Manuel was stuck on the scout team when it became apparent to him that he would indeed redshirt. Looking back at the situation, Manuel now understands that it was best for him and he is looking forward to what the future holds.

"I'm actually glad that I took the red shirt last year," Manuel said. "It's a hard pill to swallow coming out of high school because you want to play right away. But you gotta lean that there is a process and right now I'm just going through the process trying to learn."

Although Manuel did spend a year on campus, he admits that he didn't get much accomplished last season. Between being on the scout team for the entire season, and then missing all of spring practice due to a minor injury, Manuel has seen very few reps in practice situations.

"Honestly, I feel like these have been my real first days of practice," Manuel said. "Right now, I'm just trying to learn everything I can with my teammates."

During fall camp so far, the reduced depth at quarterback, along with new up-tempo practices, Manuel is getting plenty of reps and chances to show what he has.

"I feel a lot more involved this year," the former five-star said. "I'm right behind Christian [Ponder] and I've been getting all the reps with the second team and learning to lead those guys first."

As any quarterback who plays for Jimbo Fisher, Manuel is in a position where he is expected to be a sponge and learn at a rapid pace. Although a lot of new information, Manuel insists he is taking it all in very well. His maturity is also showing as he has learned to accept Fisher's style of coaching knowing that it will make him a better player.

"Jimbo keeps throwing a lot at me, but I think I'm handling it well," Manuel said. "He keeps getting on me but I'm taking it all constructively."

As of right now, Manuel is a good distance behind Ponder on the depth chart, but that isn't changing his mentality of what he hopes for this coming season.

"I still hope to compete with Christian," Manuel said. "I think I'm doing a pretty good job soaking it all in right now and can make a push."

Manuel has impressed greatly during the first week of camp making several throws that very few quarterbacks have the ability to do. He has great touch when needed, but also possesses a cannon that allows him to throw the ball well over 60 yards in the air. Early on, he is having trouble picking up blitzes and making his reads, but when he does, Manuel looks like a very promising quarterback.

Manuel could have the strongest arm on the team

He may not take the starting job this season, but he will see the field gaining valuable experience for the future. Florida State will hold their first scrimmage of the fall this Saturday which will be a golden opportunity for Manuel to show that he is ready to compete in game situations.

Look for Manuel to see playing time during games this season gaining valuable experience.

NoleDigest will be on hand at the scrimmage with a full report keeping a close on on both quarterbacks as well as several other position battles.

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