Each summer, Peyton Manning hosts a four-day passing academy at Nicholls State University intended to teach high school and college quarterbacks the fundamentals of the position. Manning co-hosts the camp with his father, Archie, and brothers Eli and Cooper. The passing academy began on Thursday and lasts through this afternoon.
The list of this year’s coach/participants is impressive. It includes Stanford’s Andrew Luck, Florida State’s Christian Ponder, Tennessee’s Matt Simms, Houston’s Case Keenum, Boise State’s Kellen Moore, Texas A&M’s Jerrod Johnson, LSU’s Jordan Jefferson, Alabama’s Greg McElroy, and T.J. Yates of North Carolina.
Ohio State’s Terrelle Pryor, Washington’s Jake Locker, and Jacory Harris of Miami (FL) were invited, but unable to attend. Ryan Mallett of Arkansas is still rehabbing an injury.
On hand for “coaching” only purposes are longtime Bengals quarterback Ken Anderson, ESPN analyst Jesse Palmer, Giants wide receiver Hakeem Nicks, and Colts receiver Austin Collie, among others.
The passing academy held an “Air It Out” challenge on Saturday, pitting the top campers against each other for a drills competition. Sam Bradford won last year.
This summer’s winner was Taylor Potts of Texas Tech, who edged out Tennessee transfer Matt Simms — son of Phil and brother of Chris — in the finals. According to ESPN’s Chris Mortensen, who was on hand in Thibodaux, Louisiana, Simms showed off an “arm as strong as anyone” and can “spin it big time.” Simms was the “wow guy,” but Potts won using a “softer style” that apparently allowed for better accuracy.
Luck, entering just his sophomore year for Jim Harbaugh’s Stanford Cardinal, was considered the top NFL prospect in Thibodaux. Florida State’s Ponder is also viewed as a possible first-rounder in the 2011 NFL Draft. Ponder participated despite coming off shoulder surgery.
Mortensen threw out a sleeper: Colin Kaepernick of Nevada, who like Simms reportedly exhibited “wow factor” in terms of throwing power. Kaepernick has compiled a 61:16 touchdown-to-interception ratio through three years as a starter for the Wolf Pack. Like Luck, Mallett, and Ponder, Kaepernick will be eligible for next year’s NFL draft.