LOGAN BYU was known as Quarterback U. for nearly two decades under LaVell Edwards with all of the quality QBs that went through the program.
In the lower ranks, Logan High has established itself as Quarterback High in Utah for much of the same reasons. Ryan Bohm and Ben Macey were outstanding QBs earlier this decade, but Riley Nelson took the school's reputation to new heights with his absolute dominance for two years.
Jeff Manning is next in line at Quarterback High.
Coming off a junior season in which he threw for 2,280 yards and 29 touchdowns, the highly-recruited 6-foot-5 senior is poised for even bigger and better things this season.
"He's made great strides in the offseason, his technique has improved immensely and his understanding of what we do has also progressed, so he's in a position to have a great season," said Logan coach Mike Favero.
The colleges have taken notice as well. Manning was invited to the University of Oregon and University of Washington camps this summer, and he's also gone to in-state camps at BYU, Utah and Utah State.
Manning's combination of size and athleticism is what the college coaches love. He'll never be as quick and dominant as Nelson was, but he's got the size and arm strength that realistically prevented Nelson from ending up at any college in the country.
"He's going to be a good runner," said Favero. "He doesn't appear to look like one, he's got a great stride and he covers a lot of ground, and he's become a tough football player."
Manning rushed for 10 touchdowns during his junior season, including one each on fourth-down scrambles in the playoffs against Park City and Delta.
Even though there's really no comparison between Nelson and Manning, Logan's coach sees slight similarities in their learning curve. Nelson struggled during the first half of his junior season in 2004, but he thrived the rest of the year and dominated the entire state in 2005. Manning went through the same learning curve in the early portions of his junior season, but he'd really started to grasp the offense by midseason.
Manning spent a lot of time since last season working with Favero to better understand how to read defenses, and as a result he'll call a lot of Logan's plays at the line of scrimmage. Favero believes that empowering kids brings out the best in them.
That's a big reason why Logan is a big favorite to repeat as 3A state champions.
"It's really pretty simple if you can see and think real, real fast. And kids can if you can teach them," said Favero.
He said the concept of learning it all is called "numbers, angle, athletes, first downs and touchdowns." Favero said it sounds more confusing than it really is, and Manning is starting to pick things up.
"I feel a lot more comfortable. Coach Favero's taught me a lot during the offseason, defensewise, coveragewise, and I feel like I'm picking up where I left off last season," said Manning.That's a scary proposition for the rest of Region 11 and 3A.
Region 11 capsules
REGION 11 PROJECTIONS
(Preseason rankings are based on coaches' votes)
1. LOGAN: With eight starters back from last year's state title team, including many of its best players, Logan should be a very good team in 2008. Jordan Ballam, last year's 3A MVP, is back as is below linebacker Taylor Peacock and starting defensive ends Ian Haderlie and Jared Theurer. Ballam and Edwards are also expected to see some playing time at running back. Jeff Manning will start at quarterback again, and even though the team is breaking in five new receivers, two of those spots will be filled by newcomers Stephen Gwynn and Zack Skabelund. On the offensive line, the Grizzlies are in great shape with returning starting tackle Jared Theurer and returning guard George Pauni. 2007 RECORD: 12-2. PLAYOFFS: 3A state champions.
2. MORGAN: The Trojans did not have a good preseason last year but turned things around in region play. About half of those starters are back, and Morgan is hoping to pick up this season where it left off. With Matt Largent back, that's a good possibility. He took over midway through last season at quarterback, and it's probably not a coincidence that Morgan started winning as a result. Jake Kinsey, Ben VanCampen and Dayton Smith were contributors at running back last year and despite an inexperienced line in front of them should have good seasons. Defensively, Jordan Wamsley and Blake Haddock are back from a group that held state champion Logan to just 66 yards of total offense in a region game last year a game Logan won anyway 17-3. 2007 RECORD: 5-6. PLAYOFFS: Lost in first round.
3. BEAR RIVER: If the Bears stay healthy, they should be able to bounce back from last year's unforeseen disastrous season. They'll still be young if they get the job done. Coach Chris Wise doesn't anticipate starting a single senior on offense, whereas defense will be a mix of upperclassman and underclassmen. James Taylor will get the starting nod at quarterback again, having taken over the spot three games into his sophomore season last year. The running game will feature junior Hayden Haddock and sophomore Peyton Wells. Defensively, returning starter Richard Petersen is back at nose guard, and he is a beast at 290 pounds. Fellow senior Colton Wood will also be a contributor at defensive back. 2007 RECORD: 1-10. PLAYOFFS: Missed the playoffs.
4 (TIE), GRANTSVILLE: The Cowboys had a very young squad in 2007, and coach Tony Cloward is optimistic it will translate into more success in 2008. Alex Childs is back after leading the team with both 700 rushing yards and 400 receiving yards. Forrest Stephenson takes over at quarterback with high expectations as well. Blocking for both of them will be junior lineman Austin Butler. Defensively, linebacker Austin Gumacio returns after leading Grantsville with 72 tackles, while Max Bleazard will be a key cog on the defensive line. Overall, with eight offensive starters back and seven defensive starters, the Cowboys could be a bit underrated heading into the season. 2007 RECORD: 3-8. PLAYOFFS: Lost in first round.
4 (TIE), BEN LOMOND: Despite losing its entire offensive line to graduation, along with the inevitability of starting a ton of juniors this year, the Scots could be pretty good this year. Max Walling is back at quarterback after starting nine games in place of injured starter Chase Moore. Running back Shay Kaleikini is back after rushing for over 900 yards last year. Kaleikini will also start at defensive tackle. The receiving corps is in great shape with senior returning starter Joey Ybarra and junior returning starters Jared Jackson Jr. and Bridger Smith. If the Scots' young but athletic offensive line develops quickly, another playoff berth is a real possibility this year. 2007 RECORD: 2-10. PLAYOFFS: Lost in first round.6. OGDEN: A year after a rare playoff appearance for the Tigers, first-year coach Eric Eyre takes over the program after helping out at Alta last year. He's got a lot of returning starters at his disposal to be successful. Quarterback Max Rodriguez and Freddie Delgado are back, while in the trenches Jose Alejandre, Sheldon Black and Jacob Farley are also back and expected to start both ways. The linebacking corps of Zach Saffell, Eli Garcia and Delgado is undersize, but they're quick, they're strong and they hit hard. 2007 RECORD: 3-8. PLAYOFFS: Lost in the first round.
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