Jake Bentley has been excited about serving as a counselor at the Manning Passing Academy since he learned in January that he would.
That invitation came in a call from Archie Manning, the camp’s founder and executive director – not to mention the former Ole Miss and New Orleans Saints quarterback and father to NFL stars Peyton and Eli Manning.
“I was like, ‘Wow, Archie Manning is calling me,’ ” said Bentley, South Carolina’s 6-foot-4 sophomore starting quarterback. “Right when he invited me, I said, ‘I’m coming. Whatever I have to do to clear something out of my schedule, I don’t care what it is, I am coming down here.’ ”
That excitement grew Friday morning when Peyton walked out to coach on the same field as Bentley, quite a coincidence in an event that has more than 1,200 high school age campers and uses more than a dozen fields each day to work with them all.
“He came out there, and the (campers) were asking me what to do and I said, ‘Well, I am just going to watch Peyton and whatever he does, I’ll copy it,’ ” said Bentley, who worked Friday with a group of about 10 young campers. “That was awesome to hear him coach and be out there with him.”
It was far from his only exposure to the camp’s most famous coach this week. The college quarterbacks who work the camp all have a private throwing session with Peyton and Eli Manning three times during the week, and the first of those was Thursday night. Bentley got to sit with Peyton at a Thursday evening social function. All the while, he was trying to take in as much information as he could, he said.
“Peyton went through his whole weekly preparation and how he prepares every week,” Bentley said. “I liked a lot of stuff that he did, and I will definitely be able to use that. He kind of broke down each day what he did, and it was really good.”
Bentley is rooming with Arkansas quarterback Austin Allen at Nicholls State University, the host of the camp. Heisman Trophy winner Lamar Jackson, Georgia quarterback Jacob Eason, LSU quarterback Danny Etling, Southern Cal quarterback Sam Darnold and Washington quarterback Jake Browning are among the counselors at this year’s camp.
“It was great just getting to be with (the Mannings) and kind of be able to pick their brain and what they know and also just be around the other guys here,” Bentley said. “There are a lot of great guys out there, and just getting to see what they know and how they do things has been great.”
Bentley, who threw for 1,420 yards, nine touchdowns and four interceptions last year, will work the camp through Sunday and compete in a skills challenge with the other college quarterbacks Saturday.