Decision day is here for Virginia Beach (Va.) Bayside quarterback E.J. Manuel. The nation's No. 2-ranked quarterback will announce his choice on Wednesday at 5:30 p.m. ET at his high school and many expect a happy outcome for folks in Tallahassee, Fla. Will that be the case?
"It's been a fun process but it can also get a bit overwhelming," said the 6-foot-4, 201-pounder who has offers from more than 40 different programs. "I really appreciate the efforts of all the schools that recruited me. I narrowed it down to 11 schools and I picked those 11 because I got a good feeling about the coaches I met and the programs they represent."
However, Manuel hasn't visited all 11 of his favorites, leaving a few teams with little chance come decision time.
"I've been to LSU, Miami, Florida State, Maryland, North Carolina, Rutgers and Penn State," said Manuel. "I never got to see Alabama, Oregon, Tennessee or Boston College because I wanted to make this decision before things heated up for my senior season. We just started conditioning for the season and I want to begin to focus on that so I it's time to make a decision."
Early in the process Manuel liked Maryland quite a bit and said that Miami was his dream school. However, when LSU and Florida State offered, things seemed to change. Most feel it will come down to those two programs.
"I didn't really narrow it down like that," he said. "I liked all the schools I visited and I'm glad I saw so many different places. LSU is attractive because they play in a great conference, they have amazing fans and the Jamarcus Russell comparisons are flattering. Florida State is a great program, coach (Jimbo) Fisher is the guy who coached Jamarcus and the program has a great tradition. But I also liked a lot of things about Miami, Maryland and others as well."
Watching the process evolved for Manuel has been interesting. At first he was thrilled with the early attention and was excited to have a few different options. Then things blew up for him and he began to realize how many different options he'd have.
For the last couple of months I've felt this was a two-team battle between LSU and Florida State. The Tigers had a slight edge following his visit there, but it soon became obvious to me that if things went well on his FSU visit, he'd end up there. I think things went even better than expected and Manuel will be another five-star commitment for the 'Noles for the class of 2008.
Adding Manuel is huge for FSU and I honestly feel that the coaching staff is finally in place to develop a top passer in Tallahassee. There have been talented quarterbacks committed to FSU over the last few years but they were never developed. Fisher is the guy who can make Manuel a star.
? Mike Farrell
Manuel knows what school he's choosing and knew from the beginning what he wanted in a program.
"I wanted an area that reminds me of Virginia Beach and home, I wanted a school where my relationship with the coaches was more than just player-coach and I wanted a place where I could reach my academic and athletic goals," he said. "I was looking for that fit. My coach at Bayside (Darnell Moore) told me that the coaches that pray for me are the coaches I'll want to play for. I think I've found that."
Whatever program Manuel chooses will be getting a player with big-time skills and upside as well as tremendous character. Numerous coaches on the recruiting trail have raved about Manuel as a person in addition to his ability on the field.
"That's always good to hear," said the five-star quarterback. "That's important to me. It's important that I don't let things change me and that's something my father has instilled in me. All the attention has been great but it doesn't change who I am and what my principles are. Once I made the decision I feel like a weight was lifted off my back and I am so convinced I've picked the right place that it's exciting to me. The only reason I've waited to announce it is because I want to do it with my family, my coach and my teammates because without them I'm not where I am today."