What started as a great concept has become a great annual event.
The Manning Passing Academy Offensive Skills Camp embarks on its 18th year July 11-14 at Nicholls State University in Thibodaux. This will mark the eighth year of the camp taking place at Nicholls State, according to Archie Manning.
"It seems like just yesterday that we moved there," Manning said. "The people have been great and the facilities provide what we need."
The purpose of the camp is to create an environment of greater understanding of, and the proficiency with, the fundamentals, techniques, skills, motivation and sportsmanship necessary for success at the individual offensive skill positions in the sport of football, while expanding the overall knowledge and strategy of offensive play and defensive coverage. The camp specializes in developing and teaching skills to running backs, tight ends and wide receivers.
Along with Archie, sons Cooper, Peyton and Eli are prominent instructors and members of the executive staff. Once again, the 2013 camp is full.
"We will have 1,100 to 1,200 kids participating," Manning said. "It would be nice to have even more but space is the issue. It is truly amazing and a blessing to see how it has grown."
The camp started in 1996.
"The first one was at Tulane when Buddy Teevens was the head coach," Manning said. "It was Peyton's idea, when he was a junior at Tennessee. He wanted to do something to help area quarterbacks and coaches with their passing games and mechanics. So many high schools were just starting to scratch the surface of expanding their passing games with spread offenses then. They have come a long way. So have we."
MPA employs many high school coaches from the area and from around the country on the official staff. A lot of college coaches from around the country participate as well, including Teevens, who remains a member of the executive staff. Teevens is now the head coach at Dartmouth. While many college coaches take part, two conferences are noticeable in their absence.
"The SEC and the ACC do not let their assistant coaches participate in college camps, unfortunately," Manning said. "We would love to have them."
All of the Manning's, along with other prominent speakers with NFL backgrounds, will serve as evening speakers to provide sound advice to the campers as well.
"It is important to give the young men sound instruction about dealing with all of the distractions they will encounter along the way," Manning said.
In all, 43 college players are coming to work the 2013 camp, including 40 quarterbacks.
"We have prominent players from the major schools but we have kids from smaller schools as well," Manning said. "We have players from the likes of Arkansas Pine Bluff, Cal-Lutheran, SLU, South Alabama, New Mexico, Incarnate College, Wyoming, Dartmouth, Nicholls State, Middle Tennessee and a receiver from Eastern Washington named Cooper Kupp, the grandson of Jake Kupp, one of our Saints Hall of Fame players."
Manning says about 80 percent of the top quarterbacks in the nation are coming to Thibodaux.
The list includes reigning Heisman Trophy winner and Manning Award winner Johnny Manziel of Texas A&M.
"He is a great kid who has had to endure an enormous amount of attention and scrutiny," Manning said. "He is an outstanding player and we are happy to have him back."
Others attending include Allstate Sugar Bowl Most Valuable Player Teddy Bridgewater of Louisville, A.J. McCarron of national champion Alabama, Zach Mettenberger of LSU, Nick Montana of Tulane, Tajh Boyd of Clemson, Jeff Driskel of Florida, James Franklin of Missouri, Tanner Price of West Forest, Marcus Mariota of Oregon, Aaron Murray of Georgia, Tyler Russell of Mississippi State, Connor Shaw of South Carolina, Justin Worley of Tennessee, Scotty Young of Louisiana Tech, Bo Wallace of Ole Miss, D.J. Williams of Grambling, son of Doug Williams, and Kolton Browning of ULM.
Tommy Hodson, who will be inducted into the Louisiana Sports Hall of Fame on June 29 in Natchitoches, helps out from the business side.
"No one deserves that honor more than Tommy," Manning said. "He was a great player at LSU and he is a better person. Tommy has been helping out with us for many years."
With so many big names participating, media coverage spans nationwide.
"It seems that we get more media requests and media coverage every year," Manning said. "We work hard to make sure that we accommodate each outlet as best as we can."
While Archie and Cooper still live in New Orleans, Peyton and Eli continue to play in the NFL at a high level.
"They are fully invested in this and want to continue to make it the best it can be," Manning said. "They will always be from here and give back to the region. We expect this year's camp will be the biggest and best yet."
With the star power involved, there is no question that the Manning Passing Academy is the most prominent camp of its kind in the country, bringing desired attention to south Louisiana and Lafourche Parish.
For more information, go to www.manningpassingacademy.com.
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