July 7, 2010

Manziel breaks it down

When it rains it pours and for a few weeks in Eugene, it was raining quarterback. The first to pull the trigger was Hollywood, Florida's Jerrard Randall who plans to solidify his commitment during his September official visit. Two weeks later the Oregon coaches held their annual Coaches' Camp for high school players. Johnny Manziel made the trip from Kerrville, Texas to show the coaches his stuff, and earned himself a scholarship offer in the process.

"I absolutely loved my trip to Eugene," said Manziel. "I actually stayed in Springfield so it was cool to see how Eugene and Springfield were kind of together. The things that stood out to me about the trip were the coaches and the town. It was a home away from home for me and I really enjoyed it."

For the Ducks, quarterback recruiting is a thorough business. Offensive coordinator Mark Helfrich and head coach Chip Kelly know exactly what they're looking for to run Oregon's spread option offense; a throwing quarterback who can run. For the Class of 2011, only four quarterbacks total were tendered offers, so making the cut was difficult.

"My dad has a friend who coaches down at Pittsburg high school in California," began Manziel. "I had sent my film into Oregon because I've always loved the Ducks. When it came down to recruiting I thought I better send my stuff to them. They watched my film and liked it but not enough to really do anything with an offer. After that the Pittsburg coach sent them another highlight tape of me and they watched it and I think they really liked that. Coach Helfrich flew out to our school in spring. We talked about me coming out to camp and it all kind of worked out perfect from there."

What the Oregon coaches saw at camp was something Tivy head coach Mark Smith has seen for years.

"A lot of what you see with Johnny is just a natural athlete," Smith remarked. "We would like to take credit for coaching all that up, but he's really something. We run an offense somewhat similar to Oregon's, just called differently, and he fits it because he's so athletic. He breaks a defense down with his feet and his scrambling then hurts them with his arm. We've taught him some things but a lot of it is that he's a very good athlete."

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