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Learning from the Pro's


He is a quarterback, spokesman, captain, and most recently, an actor.

However, Manning traded them all in for a whistle this past weekend, heading down to Louisiana with his family of football royalty for the 16th annual Manning Passing Academy.

Founded by his father Archie Manning, the camp resides in Thibodaux at Nicholls State University and has become a Holy Grail of sorts for 1,200 top flight high school football players, who get the chance practice with prominent NFL and college players and coaches.

"I'm excited about being here and getting around some kids who are eager about playing football," Eli said in a press conference. "It's fun to see their enthusiasm and their commitment to try and get better. Definitely, it reminds you what this is all about. It's about a game and having fun and competing and trying to get the best out of your ability."

Eli, Archie, Peyton and Cooper Manning host the four-day academy, which has seen the likes of former No. 1 overall draft picks Matthew Stafford and Sam Bradford while assembling counselors from Jon Gruden to Phil Simms over the years.

This year was no different, and among those scheduled to participate were Stanford's Andrew Luck, Oklahoma's Landry Jones, Michigan's Denard Robinson, Michigan State's Kirk Cousins and Oklahoma State's Brandon Weeden.

Beginning with 180 participants at their former location at Tulane in 1996, the camp has grown to nearly 10 times that and staffs 120 coaches that work with players in four offensive positions – quarterbacks, wide receivers, tight ends and running backs.

"I love to see young kids playing football," Gruden told The Daily Comet. "It's not like when we were growing up and you played football in football season, basketball in basketball season, baseball in baseball season and ran track in the spring. These young kids have all these electronic games and stay indoors too much. To see the turnout here is great and to see these young men work and sometimes get beat up by the intense heat and then they turn around a few minutes later and are ready to work hard again is great. I love coaching young kids, but I also know it is part of my job to keep my eye on the up-and-coming talent and the Manning camp attracts them."

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