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Manning Camp wraps up

Published 7:00am Wednesday, July 16, 2014

THIBODAUX, La. — The 19th annual Manning Passing Academy wrapped up over the weekend here at Guidry Stadium on the campus of Nicholls State University.

Approximately 1,200 campers participated in the event, which has deep Mississippi roots after being founded by former Ole Miss quarterbacks Archie and Eli Manning as well as Peyton Manning and brother Cooper.

The campers learn from the Manning family, dozens of college, and NFL players and coaches at every level.

The first camp took place at Tulane University with about 150 campers. The event has come a long way since those humble beginnings.

“Nineteen years ago we had 150 kids over at Tulane from Louisiana, maybe a few from Mississippi, never saw it getting to this point,” Peyton Manning said.

The Manning family have been hands on since Day 1, though a few things have changed since the first camp 19 years ago.

“It has surprised me that it’s grown like this,” Archie Manning added. “I always thought it would be kind of a regional thing, and we’d draw from four or five states from the southern area, but I guess it had a lot to do with the boys’ success in college football and pro football and notoriety, but when we started getting 800 hundred, 900 hundred, a thousand kids, and where they were coming from, that kind of surprised me.”

Peyton and Eli Manning and about 40 college players, who served as counselors to the campers, put on a passing display for fans and parents Saturday night during the 2014 Papa John’s Air-It-Out and Iberia Bank Quarterback Challenge.

Heisman Trophy winner Jameis Winston of Florida State was among the most notable collegiate quarterbacks who showed up for the camp. Others included Oregon’s Marcus Mariota, Southeastern’s Bryan Bennett, Tulane’s Tanner Lee, Baylor’s Bryce Petty, North Carolina’s Marquise Williams, Oregon State’s Sean Mannion, Ole Miss’ Bo Wallace, Mississippi State’s Dak Prescott, Georgia’s Hutson Mason, Tennessee’s Justin Worley, South Carolina’s Dylan Thompson, just to name a few.

Mannion won the quarterback challenge, an accuracy contest that requires the quarterbacks to throw at moving golf carts. Mannion was perfect in connecting with nine of nine targets, defeating South Alabama quarterback Brandon Bridge in the finals.

The campers finished up the camp with a final practice Sunday morning followed by the closing remarks. The Mannings pride themselves on maintaining a 10:1 ratio of campers to coaches.

“We talk fundamentals and a lot about work habits and work ethic, encouraging them for their offseason workouts and study habits,” Archie Manning said. “We try to impress upon them what it takes to be a successful high school player.”

Nicholls State hosted the academy for a 10th year, and a $1.2 million drainage improvement project for the practice fields will begin after this year’s camp ends thanks in part to funds raised at the annual event.

“It’s hard to believe its been 10 years, but it’s been a great trip for us,” said Archie Manning. “We had a great experience at Tulane and we had a great experience in Hammond at Southeastern Louisiana, but we moved here. It always comes back to one thing and that’s the people. When it comes to Nicholls State and the community and the whole area, it’s the hospitality and they make us feel welcome.”

The Manning’s were honored Friday by Nicholls State University President Dr. Bruce T. Murphy following second day of camp activities. Dr. Eugene Dial, Associate Professor of Education and Vice President for Student Affairs and Enrollment Services with Nicholls State University, presented a plaque to the Mannings, thanking them for their efforts and their commitment to Nicholls State.

“It’s a source of pride,” Dial said. “If you go throughout any place in south Louisiana and you speak of the Manning Passing Academy, they know that it is going to be a first-rate academy and they know that it is going to be well-run.”

The Manning’s plan on celebrating 20 years of camps next year.

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