MISSION VIEJO, Calif. — Conner Manning gave Utah coaches Kyle Whittingham and Aaron Roderick a first-hand glimpse of the future Friday night.
And it was bright.
The record-setting quarterback from El Toro High School, who has accepted a scholarship offer from the Utes, put on quite a performance with Whittingham and Roderick watching from the sideline. Manning threw four touchdown passes and scored on a trick play with a catch in front of the Utah coaches as El Toro topped Tesoro in a battle of unbeatens, 41-31.
"I was very excited to have them here," Manning said. "I knew I wanted to put up a show for them."
Manning has now completed 242-of-357 passes for 3,218 yards on the season. He's thrown 34 touchdowns and has only been intercepted three times.
El Toro coach Robert Frith noted that the 6-foot-2, 180-pound Manning is rewriting the records books and becoming a bit of an Orange County legend.
"He's a consummate competitor. He plays the position. He's the best," Frith said. "They're getting the best quarterback that I've ever seen. They're getting the best quarterback in Southern California."
And there's more, Frith explained while praising Whittingham and Roderick for being excellent evaluators of talent. The Utes, he continued, got a good one in Manning.
While NCAA rules prohibit the Utah coaches from commenting on Manning until he officially signs a letter-of-intent in February, the quarterback acknowledged that his commitment to the Utes is solid. He plans to join the team this summer after graduation.
"I'll be there. I'll definitely be there," Manning said. "... They've been with me the whole time and the relationship I have with them is fantastic. So I'm a Ute."
Manning noted that he has been watching Utah's quarterback situation a little bit. He even knows starter Travis Wilson a little bit. Wilson played his high school football down the road in San Clemente, Calif.
Although he's excited to enroll at Utah and attended Saturday's game against UCLA at the Rose Bowl, Manning is focused on his prep career — and it has nothing to do with his Orange County high school records for passing yards in both a season and a game. He surpassed current USC quarterback Matt Barkley with 4,219 yards last season and threw for 613 yards and seven touchdowns in a game last month.
"The only record I'm worried about is we're 8-0 right now," Manning said. "And that's all I care about."
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