Pac-12 Players You Aren't Paying Attention to and Should: OSU's Sean Mannion
I suppose there is only so much air available for Pac-12 quarterbacks, and Matt Barkley is sucking it all up.
However, there are other QB's in the Pac-12 and some of them are poised to have good, perhaps even breakout, years. Sean Mannion of Oregon State is one of those quarterbacks to keep your eye on in 2012.
It's the American way to follow the hype and there are plenty of exciting players in the Pac-12 who are garnering most of the pre-season attention. The goal of this slideshow—and others that will follow in this space—is to highlight those players who for a variety of reasons may not be high on your radar.
Maybe they play on teams who aren't expected to compete for the conference championship, or maybe they have labored in the shadows of more prominent players on their team.
Whatever the reason, there are Pac-12 players to whom you should pay attention when the season begins. Sean Mannion is one of them.
He's Young, but Tested
As a redshirt freshman in 2011, Sean Mannion played against some of the best talent in the Pac-12. Mannion started ten games as a 19-year old.
Welcome to the real world, kid.
Passing for 3,328 yards and 16 touchdowns in his first year as the starting quarterback for the Beavers, Mannion should have the frosh learning curve behind him. Although his 64.5 percent completion rate (305 out of 473) is efficient, Mannion suffered 18 interceptions. That number will need to go down this year.
Now an old man of 20, Mannion should be able to put his freshman trial-by-fire experience to good use his sophomore season.
He Actually Has Guys to Throw to This Year!
Senior wide receiver Markus Wheaton was named a co-captain for the Beavers for 2012, along with Jordan Poyer, Andrew Seumalo and Sean Mannion (Mannion was the first sophomore in Beaver history to be named a co-captain.)
Whodathunkit that Kenny Wheaton's (star Oregon player who changed the face of Oregon Ducks football with one play known as "The Pick") nephew would end up being a star at Oregon State? But that's what is going to happen in 2012. Mannion to Wheaton will be a frequent happening on Saturdays this fall.
But Wheaton isn't Mannion's only option at receiver this year. Sophomore Obum "Go Watch Him" Gwacham is a 6'5" target that Mannion will be drooling over when the Beavers get close.
Mannion throws a beautiful deep ball, and I think these two receivers will do their part in 2012.
The Pros Like Him
Sean Mannion is a classic, pro-style quarterback in the mold of Andrew Luck.
Calm down, people, I'm not saying Mannion is as good as Luck, just that they have similar styles.
At 6'5", 215 lbs, Mannion has the size to compete at the next level. He is listed on several NFL scouting sites as the No. 6 quarterback prospect in the country in the 2015 draft.
An interesting side note: Oregon QB Marcus Mariota—we don't know yet if he will even be the Ducks' starter—is listed as the No. 9 QB prospect in the nation in the same class.
In his sophomore season, Mannion must learn to not throw into double coverage. He did that too often in 2011, in part because he was so young. I would expect him to make better decisions more frequently this year—with age comes wisdom, blah blah blah.
As a redshirt freshman, Mannion was named to the Freshman All-America team by the Football Writer's Association.
Will he top his performance in 2012 or have a sophomore slump? I think opponents should be ready for Sean Mannion to make a major mark this year.
Don't say I didn't warn you.