For an aspiring college coach hell-bent on networking, Joey Elliott coveted the time he spent as a counselor at the Manning Passing Academy earlier this month in Louisiana.
The Boilermaker quarterback was set up with the gig in large part by former offensive coordinator Ed Zaunbrecher and found himself surrounded by some of nation's finest QBs, highlighted of course by Peyton and Eli Manning.
NFL and college coaches and players worked the camp, putting Elliott in the same company as NCAA stars like Sam Bradford, Jevan Snead and Colt McCoy. Bradford, Oklahoma's quarterback, is the reigning Heisman winner; McCoy was a runner-up.
"They try to get as many college quarterbacks as possible, because kids love working with college quarterbacks," Elliott said. "They go home and say, 'Hey, mom, I worked with this guy that I saw on TV.' Peyton and Eli drive around on a golf cart and jump into whatever drill they want. They're very hands-on. I thought they'd be there a lot less than they were."
Elliott and his fellow collegiate QBs were responsible largely for working with groups of young quarterbacks, manning stations during drills. The Purdue QB's responsibility during one set of drills was the five-step drop, something he rarely, if ever, has been asked to do in the Boilermaker offense.
No matter, Elliott said.
"I pride myself on my drops," he said.
The Evansville native received some positive feedback on his performance.
"I thought it was an honor that afterwards," Elliott said, "I had five or six parents come up and say, 'Hey, my son said your station was the most fun.'"
Elliott said he learned from the experience, particularly from a question-and-answer session the college quarterbacks got with Peyton Manning.
"I worked with him quite a bit," Elliott said. "We had a sit-down session where it was just us college quarterbacks and him where we could ask him anything we wanted, about the NFL, combine stuff and what you need to do, what kind of film work he does, just anything. It was a great opportunity to learn."
But in Elliott's situation, it was also an opportunity to get known. The fifth-year senior will tell anyone who'll listen about his aspirations to coach after college, a career path he plans to embark on immediately upon graduation and has already begun working toward.
Developing contacts among coaches has been a priority for Elliott in recent years, the reason he traveled to the NCAA coaches convention last winter.
Needless to say, the opportunity to be around so many coaches and high-profile athletes was not one he wanted to squander.
"I took it as an honor to go down there and I tried to make as many friends as possible," Elliott said. "I wanted to represent Purdue and represent myself well and do a little work. Obviously there are a lot of big-name coaches and big-name guys down there and it's a résumé-builder, any time you say you got to work with Peyton Manning and Sam Bradford and big names like that. It can't hurt you.
"It's like they say, 'Do as much as possible, be well-rounded and be networking all the time.'"
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