Unit Preview: Quarterback

The quarterback is the leader of your football team and returning experience at the position is a strong step toward a successful season. The roll call of quarterbacks in college football more valuable to their team than Eli Manning is a short one if not non-existent. Manning set or tied 17 school records in his first season as a starter and he has already been named to the <I>Playboy</I> preseason All-America team heading into his second season at the helm.

Manning gained about 15 pounds during the off-season through hard work in the weight room. Additionally, his experience in Coach David Cutcliffe's offense was evident in spring practice as Manning made improvements in his decision making and the vertical element in his game. It's difficult to imagine Manning playing on an even higher level with the success of his sophomore season but the 2002 season could be special.

Backing up Manning is senior David Morriss who has one start in his career. Morriss is a consistent player who plays within his own abilities and the team concept. Obviously, there is a drop off from a talent the likes of Manning but Morriss is a steady insurance policy should the team need to turn to him. Morriss brings his lunch pail and hardhat to the practice field every day.

Michael Spurlock brings a different set of tools to the table with the added threat of his running ability. Spurlock is shorter than the prototype college quarterback but he has a live arm and his legs offer a difficult change of pace for opposing defenses to stop. Playing time during the 2002 season could help prepare Spurlock for an increased role later in his career.

Seth Smith missed spring practice due to his presence in right field for the Rebels' baseball team. He has some talent and preseason practice will be critical to his development without the benefit of the 15 practices allowed in the spring.

Ethan Flatt and Bryan Brown are incoming freshmen who will most likely red-shirt during the 2002 season. Flatt is an agile athlete with excellent height and a good arm while Brown is capable of playing multiple positions.

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