Frazier's Manack adapts quickly to quarterback position
At one time, Charlie Manack's football journey was typical.
A self-described “pudgy” kid, he began as a pee-wee lineman and eventually moved to tight end. And after making all-conference at the position as a Frazier sophomore, he figured to likely stay there.
Well, until equipment day that year.
“The day we turned in our stuff (coach Mike Steeber) asked me, ‘What do you think about playing quarterback?,' ” Manack said. “I had to think about it. Tight end was where I always thought I'd play.”
Since making the move under center, the Commodores couldn't be happier with the results.
Manack threw for 1,794 yards and 20 touchdowns last season, his first as a full-time quarterback.
Steeber said things clicked quickly for Manack, and he noticed a difference in the junior one quarter into his first start. He went on to have four 200-yard passing games, a pair of four-touchdown games and led Frazier to a WPIAL Class A playoff appearance before losing to WPIAL and state champion Clairton.
“Charlie's a smart kid,” Steeber said. “There are certain times he'll point certain things to us, and we'll adapt to what he sees. It's his biggest strength.”
Those smarts sped up the transition to a new position, one Manack admits wasn't easy at first.
“It's really difficult to go from blocking to throwing all the time,” he said.
Aside from trying to grasp the Frazier playbook and responsibilities that go with being a quarterback, he needed to get the basics down.
Especially when it came to footwork.
“I remember when I first started at a seven-on-seven camp I wouldn't take the three-step drop; I'd just wait and throw it,” Manack said. “ I knew I was supposed to, my body just wasn't used to it. Every time the ball was in my hands, I was just ready to throw.”
Now, through drills that continue daily, Manack is able move around the pocket comfortably and confidently. Even dropping back has become natural, he says.
What is happening isn't a total surprise.
Manack had a growth spurt right before high school, setting up the possibility of him someday being Frazier's quarterback. He also ran the varsity scout team as a freshman before playing exclusively tight end the next season.
“I think he had a comfort level there. That certainly made his transition easier,” Steeber said.
Manack's cousin, former Commodores star Rock Vargo, played a role as well.
“He was more of a lead-by-example guy,” Manack said of Vargo, who earned all-conference honors as a senior in 2011. “You watched what he did.”
While Manack doesn't mind the comparisons between he and his cousin, he's looking to make his own mark on Frazier football.
And do whatever it takes.
“If I have to turn around and hand the ball off every play, I'm fine with that,” he said. “Whatever gets us to a (conference) championship.”
Nick Cammuso is a freelance writer.