No. 81 has worked out just fine for Thaddeus.
At a camp for quarterbacks, Burrow and Lawrence taught high schoolers and learned from the Mannings.
The camp counselors made good.
Last summer, long before it was clear who would reach Monday’s national title game, L.S.U. quarterback Joe Burrow and Clemson quarterback Trevor Lawrence spent time in Louisiana practicing their passes, showing off their arm strength and … teaching teenagers. It was all part of the gig of being a counselor at the Manning Passing Academy, the summer football institute that draws about 1,200 high school players and features some people who know something about leading offenses.
“Both of them were just good kids, great attitude,” Archie Manning, who runs the camp with his sons, including Peyton and Eli, said of Burrow and Lawrence. “Joe is a little quieter but serious. You can believe he did a good job with them, working on the basics and mechanics and those type of things.”
Manning quickly added, though, that “a lot of the kids were a little more in awe of Trevor,” most likely because he had already won a national title. (“And then the hair kind of sets him apart,” Manning added with a chuckle.)
But as the days passed with Burrow and Lawrence cycling through groups of players — Lawrence coached a Manning grandchild in seven-on-seven games — the nation’s most celebrated family of quarterbacks also got a chance to scout the signal callers for L.S.U. and Clemson.
Burrow, Manning said, was “kind of a sponge off Peyton and Eli.”
“You could tell he’s committed, he’s serious, he throws the ball well, he’s accurate and can make all the throws,” Manning said. But Manning, still such a legend at Mississippi that his jersey number is enshrined as the campus’s 18-mile-per-hour speed limit, said that Burrow’s father had approached him with a request: Say something to Joe about getting on the ground, about not running so recklessly.
“His response was something like, ‘It looks kind of wimpy,’” Manning said.
The family was particularly interested in Lawrence, Manning said, after his prolific freshman year at Clemson — and because he had grown up idolizing Peyton and wearing No. 16, Peyton’s uniform number at Tennessee. They deemed him as impressive as advertised, Manning said.
“He even had a few observers there at camp say when God drew up a quarterback, he made Trevor. He looks the part,” Manning said. “He’s got good size, great legs. And then he just checks all of the boxes: throwing the ball, everything was strong-armed, accurate, good footwork.”