Manuel: "Maryland's definitely my number one"

Maybe it's early in the '08 recruiting cycle to be tossing around a lot of predictions about which players are likely to become the next generation of Terps, but listening to Bayside (Va.) blue-chip quarterback E.J. Manuel gush about the University of Maryland, it's also fair to say someone is going to have to knock his socks off in order to knock Maryland off the top of his wishlist.

"Maryland is definitely in my number one spot and it's going to be that way for a long time," Manuel, a 6-foot-5, 210-pound dual-threat quarterback told

Manuel, who received a UMD offer a while ago and visited for the N.C. State football game, was a special guest for the Duke men's basketball game last week. He spent time with the coaching staff and some of the players, and came away raving about everything Maryland has to offer,

"I think Maryland is out ahead of everybody because of the job they've done," said Bayside coach Darnell Moore, who praised the ‘terrific' job Terps offensive line coach Tom Brattan has done in recruiting Manuel; Brattan is in charge of recruiting the talent-rich Virginia Beach area for Maryland.

Said Manuel of his visit last week, "I got to talk to Coach Friedgen a lot and he's a great coach, I really like him. I also really like Coach Sollazzo, who is the recruiting coordinator, and Coach Brattan, who's recruiting me.

"It's a big-time program. They went to a bowl game and won the ACC Championship [in 2001], they're sponsored by UnderArmour, and it's [basically] in the heart of D.C.," he said.

Manuel is a quick and athletic quarterback, but both he and his coach are quick to point out that he's just that – an athletic quarterback, rather than an athlete who happens to be playing the position. He has started on varsity for the football and basketball teams since his freshman year, including a 1,973-yard, 15-touchdown junior year that earned him all-Tidewater District honors.

He also rushed for 345 yards and five touchdowns and threw only seven interceptions in 10 games.

"He's a very intelligent kid. He's a student of the game. People will look at him as a dual-threat because he can run, but he's an extremely accurate passer. He makes every throw that a coach wants his quarterback to make," Moore said.

He's a student of more than football, though. Manuel is enrolled and thriving in Bayside's challenging Health Sciences program, in which he's studying patho-physiology -- the study of the origin of diseases. He'd like to become a biomedical engineer.

"Coach Friedgen said they have one of the best engineering schools in the nation. Really all I need, Maryland has about everything," Manuel said.

He's not going to jump to an immediate conclusion, though, as he'll be checking out Duke and UVA's junior days in the coming weeks and is receiving interest from UVA and Virginia Tech. But with both teams loaded up on young quarterbacks, he sounds like a longshot to end up at either home-state school.

"They got two of the top quarterbacks in the Class of 2007 ... It would just be kind of dumb," he said, laughing a bit.

That's not to say he's afraid of competition, as he pointed out. But he's also well-aware that Maryland didn't bring in a single quarterback this year and will have plenty of room at the position a year from now. He's chatted for a minute with current Terps quarterback Josh Portis, to whom some will compare his size and abilities.
"If he's the guy, I don't mind redshirting my freshman year."

Manuel plans to attend the Nike combine in Baltimore March 10th, then review his offers and come to a decision with the following couple of months. From the sounds of it, the Terps are in fantastic shape with him.

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