Ainge on Manning watch list

Tennessee senior Erik Ainge is among the early quarterbacks to watch for the 2007 Manning Award, presented by the Allstate Sugar Bowl.

Erik Ainge was a Manning Award semifinalist last season after completing a school record 67 percent of his passes for 2,989 yards and 19 touchdowns. He earned second team mid-season All-America honors from and before injuring his ankle Oct. 28 and missing most of the LSU and Arkansas contests.

"We are excited about this year's Manning Award Watch List class," said Raymond Jeandron Jr., president of the Allstate Sugar Bowl. "In our season of crowning college football's best team, it will be another honor to announce college football's best quarterback in our home city following the Allstate BCS National Championship Game."

The Manning Award was created by the Allstate Sugar Bowl in honor of the college football accomplishments of Archie, Peyton, and Eli Manning, and will be presented to the recipient following the holiday bowl season. It is the only quarterback award that takes into consideration the candidates' bowl performances.

The winner will be determined by a selected panel of national media covering college football, as well as each of the Mannings. "We have another talented group of quarterbacks to watch from coast to coast," Archie Manning said. "We've had some phenomenal players earn this award so far and this year should be no exception."

The first three winners of the Manning Award reads like a Who's Who list at the quarterback position. Southern California's Matt Leinart was the inaugural winner of the award in 2005, followed by Texas' Vince Young in 2006. Last season, LSU's JaMarcus Russell earned the award, capped by his performance in the Allstate Sugar Bowl. All three players went on to become first round draft picks in the NFL. Finalists for the award will be announced prior to the beginning of the bowl season.

2007 Manning Award Watch List: ERIK AINGE, TENNESSEE; Taylor Bennett, Georgia Tech; John David Booty, Southern California; Colt Brennan, Hawaii; Alex Brink, Washington State; Brian Brohm, Louisville; Rudy Carpenter, Arizona St.; Brandon Cox, Auburn; Chase Daniel, Missouri; Nate Davis, Ball State; Dennis Dixon, Oregon; Matt Flynn, LSU; Matt Grothe, South Florida; Graham Harrell, Texas Tech; Chad Henne, Michigan; Rocky Hinds, UNLV; Chase Holbrook, New Mexico State; Sam Keller, Nebraska; Dan LeFevour, Central Michigan; Nate Longshore, California; Colt McCoy, Texas; Blake Mitchell, South Carolina; Anthony Morelli, Penn State; Curtis Painter, Purdue; Bobby Reid, Oklahoma State; Matt Ryan, Boston College; Paul Smith, Tulsa; Matt Stafford, Georgia; Adam Tafralis, San Jose State; Tim Tebow, Florida; Patrick White, West Virginia; Juice Williams, Illinois; Justin Willis, Southern Methodist; John Parker Wilson, Alabama; and Andre Woodson, Kentucky.

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