In late June, a slice of football heaven can be found in a neighboring state.
For 22 years now, Archie Manning and his sons - you’ve probably heard of Peyton, Cooper, and Eli before - have hosted the Manning Passing Academy annually in Southern Louisiana. Texas quarterback Shane Buechele made the football pilgrimage to Nicholls State University in Thibodeaux, Louisiana, and was one of the college counselors invited to the event, which ran June 22-25. Campers of all ages travel from around the country to receive instruction from coaches, former coaches, former and current players, and current college players.
“Shane came in and did a wonderful job,” said Buddy Teevens, head coach at Darmouth. “Hard-working, very attentive to the little details. Meshed with all the kids there. He did a great job on the field coaching and off the field.”
Teevens, the Associate Director of the Manning Passing Academy, has worked with the Manning family since the camp’s beginning. As he explains, the event can be an immense experience for the college counselors. When they’re not helping teach at the camp, they’re in meetings, hopefully picking the football brains of those around them, and competing in events. News of Buechele’s performance in Saturday night’s Papa John’s Air It Out Contest spread quickly once it hit Twitter.
The Texas quarterback emerged victorious from a group of 35 competitors, and was a college counselor with the likes of Sam Darnold (USC), Jalen Hurts (Alabama), Lamar Jackson (Louisville), Jake Browning (Washington), Jacob Eason (Georgia), Shea Patterson (Ole Miss), and more. The competition includes quarterbacks throwing at two golf carts moving laterally at 15 and 25 yards, and then a golf cart going down the sideline vertically. The task of hitting those moving carts became tougher when Tropical Storm Cindy made her wet and windy presence felt.
“It’s an accuracy deal. They start by warming up throwing to kids… unfortunately, it rained; added dimension with wet ball. He was most accurate of the guys. Basically, an elimination tournament. Guys throw to a golf cart… two lateral and one vertical. Kids get up and fire away. Slowly but surely, he was last one standing.”
Buechele gave those that stuck it out in the stands something to cheer about when he nailed the deep vertical throw perfectly.
“Hard thing to do and with the rain Cindy was circulating in the area. It hit right as we started the competition,” said Teevens. “The two laterals are 15 and 25 and the vertical is a tough one and he nailed it, probably a 50-yard throw down the sideline. Roar from the crowd because the way it was raining and it dropped in there [perfectly].”
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Winning the contest grabbed retweets and likes, but Buechele’s demeanor, interactions with campers and peers, and attention to detail probably impressed those in attendance more than any throw he made.
“He’s a humble kid. Very intelligent, aware. His intensity… he was really focused. He had questions. He was locked in. He was very responsible,” stated Teevens about Texas’s sophomore quarterback. “He struck me as really wanting to do a great job. He wasn’t anyone special in is mind. He was a guy there to do a good job for the campers. On time, organized, thoughtful, interacted very well. Nice personality. Down to earth and approachable.”
If used correctly, the setting allows young college quarterbacks to gain valuable information, ask questions, and begin to grasp what could be ahead of them. During meetings, a focused Buechele was very engaged, and eager to learn.
“It’s a comfortable way to get a lot of insight to know what that next step is about. Many times, it’s guys talking amongst themselves… it’s a neat deal. It’s by design. It’s a working camp and the kids come out and they were there three sessions a day and around younger campers. And they (the college quarterbacks) have meetings in between.”
When Buechele returned to Austin, he did so with more knowledge beyond just football and x's and o's. The sophomore quarterback was able to learn about everything on and off the field from experienced former and current players and coaches.
“The informal (discussions) are as educational as any. The whole process of moving from college to NFL… dealing with the draft, agents, variety of different coaches come in - a lot of different perspectives,” Teevens said, adding that Doug Marrone, head coach of the Jacksonville Jaguars, was there this year and NFL head coaches Sean Payton, Mike McCarthy, and others have attended the academy before. “Peyton an Eli do a tremendous job with Archie and having a sit-down and talking about playing in the NFL, how to conduct themselves on and off the field.”
And Buechele also returned after representing himself and his program in a very positive manner.
“He represented himself, his family, and the University of Texas extremely well,” said Teevens. "They should be proud of him. He has a good future."