There may never be another Charlie Ward, but there can be someone with similar talents and success. Can that be E.J. Manuel?
Some would surely think so because of his athletic ability; while I've heard others who are skeptical at the moment.
I wasn't completely pleased with his performance in the season opener, but I believe he WILL be the closest to Ward we've ever had.
Let me explain before you nah sayer's go nuts.
Manuel is the most athletic quarterback we have had since Ward. Please don't tell me Xavier Lee or Adrian McPherson crossed your mind right now. Remember when we all spoke so highly of those two and then they became a bust just like Chris Rix.
Manuel has quality experience, with a strong arm, good arm slot and relatively quick release. Plus, sitting behind Christian Ponder for three seasons isn't a bad learning tool either. All the characteristics are there for the making of a Heisman candidate eventually. The reason I say "eventually" is because there needs to be that landmark victory to post on his resume. Yes, he has ultimately won us two bowl games (Bobby Bowden's last game being the biggest one), but no game will be bigger than Oklahoma. A win there, with a solid performance, would almost certainly throw him in that Heisman category. Something that Ward has done before.
1992 was Ward's first full season and he finished with 2,647 yards, 22 touchdowns and 17 interceptions. It was a very solid season, but not a remarkable one. That came the following season when he won the Heisman by completing 69.5 percent of his passes for 3,032 yards, 27 touchdowns and had only four interceptions. Not to mention a career 22-2 record. Those are some tough numbers to compete with.
That being said, Manuel has had some good success with the little exposure. Albeit, he has only attempted a total of 233 passes in his short career, he is still on pace to break the school record for completion percentage. Right now, he sits at a remarkable 66.9 completion percentage.
I could easily see him have a strong junior season and win the Heisman his senior year, much like Ward did. For crying out loud, scouts and analysts put him on the Davey O'Brien preseason watch list and he has been a back-up for the last two seasons.
As the season progresses and he becomes more comfortable with the role as the No.1 starter all the fans, enemies, and analyst will start talking of comparisons between the two. No, he won't "be" Charlie Ward. He may not garner the hardware that Ward has won. But when things are all said and done, he will be regarded as one of the top quarterbacks to have ever worn the Garnet and Gold.
There won't just be a Charlie Ward, there will be an E.J. Manuel too.