Former NFL quarterback Peyton Manning earned a Hall of Fame reputation as being one of the more cerebral players in the sport’s history. When he speaks, the masses listen.
The Tennesee Volunteers legend has several dozen quarterbacks from all over the country at his annual Manning Passing Academy at Nicholls State University this week. And among them is Joe Milton, who is aiming to be the next great Volunteers quarterback. So, learning a thing or two from Manning certainly couldn’t hurt for Milton, who is set to take over the reins of the starting quarterback job from Hendon Hooker.
Manning spoke candidly about Milton and had some high praise for the 23-year-old gunslinger.
“I’ve enjoyed getting to know Joe. We text occasionally and pull hard for him and I’m really proud of him coming in last year after Hendon’s injury and keeping things together and a great bowl win,” Manning said via On3 Sports. “A bowl win can do so much for a quarterback’s confidence, especially in his first year, really, as a starter. So I can tell Joe’s confident and I’m excited about him having a great senior year.”
Tennessee’s 31-14 win over Clemson in the Orange Bowl, served as an audition tape for Milton, who completed 19-of-28 passes for 251 yards with three touchdowns and no interceptions in the win. His play caught the attention of many, and so did his big arm.
Manning is especially excited to see Milton’s arm strength on display over the weekend,
“Oh man, we’ve had some great ones here. But I’m not sure there’s been more anticipation for this Friday night throwing tonight. We usually start the throwing on, I don’t know, maybe the 30 yard line, going toward the other end zone. You figure that you’ve got 80 yards that’s safe, that you’re not going to run a kid into the goalpost. I’m not sure the 30’s safe with Joe. We might need to back him up on our own 10 and give him 100 yards to work with. But, big arms is great but I watch Joe practice, I know how much he studies. He’s an accurate quarterback and he’s a great kid as well,” Manning said.
Manning expressing his confidence in the former Michigan transfer speaks volumes to how the rest of the college football world views Milton. In the meantime, it remains to be seen how Milton will perform as a full-time starter for the Vols.
[On3 Sports; photo from Rich Storry/USA TODAY Sports]