Florida State QB completes trying year
TribLIVE Sports Videos
MIAMI — When quarterback EJ Manuel takes the Orange Bowl field Tuesday for his final game at Florida State, his mother will be home in Virginia, recovering from her final round of chemotherapy to treat breast cancer.
The turn of the calendar marks the end of an emotional year for the family. Jackie Manuel was diagnosed shortly before the season, and for EJ, trying to win games became a welcome diversion rather than his primary concern.
More than ever, football also became something to celebrate. Many of EJ's relatives — his mom included — will gather at his grandmother's house in Virginia Beach to whoop it up as they watch the No. 13 Seminoles play No. 16 Northern Illinois.
And for a few hours, at least, he'll try not to worry about his mother.
“I'll be locked in on my last game as a collegiate player,” Manuel said. “My mom wants that. This is what you work for. I'm not going to allow our team to fall short.”
The Seminoles (11-2) have followed Manuel's lead all season. He endured his worst game last month against Florida, committing four turnovers in a 37-26 loss. He reached the end zone only once in the Seminoles' other defeat, a 17-16 loss to North Carolina State. But in Florida State's victories, he threw 20 touchdown passes with only six interceptions.
The Florida game took place on Parents' Day in Tallahassee, and Jackie Manuel made the 12-hour drive to attend. Watching mom and dad walk onto the field before the game, EJ was overcome.
“For her to come down and support me for my last home game at Florida State meant the world to me,” he said. “That's why I couldn't really hold back. I was definitely tearing up. I was like, ‘EJ, stop crying.' But I couldn't hold it back.”
He declined to blame the heart-tugging occasion for the way he played, however.
“It just happened to be one of those days,” he said.
Regardless, Manuel won admiration from his teammates and coaches for the way he has performed.
“It has been a tough year for him,” offensive coordinator James Coley said. “Whenever you see someone near and dear to you struggling with an illness, especially at a young age, it's tough. But he persevered through it.”
In more ways than one, this has not been the senior year Manuel anticipated. The Seminoles expected to wind up in Miami, but in the BCS championship game Jan. 7, not in the Orange Bowl against a Northern Illinois team derided by some as an unworthy opponent.
However, Manuel said he's happy with his season. He threw for 3,101 yards to lead an offense that averaged 7.01 yards per play, which tied for first in the nation. He helped the Seminoles earn their first BCS bowl berth in seven years.
“I wish we could have been here a week later for the national championship,” Manuel said. “But it didn't work out that way. We won our conference and had a great season, and I'm proud of the things I've accomplished here at Florida State.”
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Man barricaded in house near West Hempfield Elementary School
- Norwin High School health teacher charged with selling heroin
- Pirates cut 12, including outfielder Tabata and pitcher Lincoln
- Penguins’ protracted slump continues with 5-2 loss at Carolina
- First trailer for Pittsburgh-shot ‘Southpaw’ hits the Internet
- Aldi to open store where Bottom Dollar closed in Garfield
- Yough senior high students evacuated for third time this week
- Freshman arrested in Burrell High School bomb threat
- Bodies of Kochu, Gray found in Ohio River in West Virginia
- Port Authority secures free North Shore light-rail service
- Bomb threat clears Apollo-Ridge High School