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Pitt QB absorbing lessons from NFL's best

Jerry DiPaola
| Tuesday, July 12, 2011

The voice mail message Pitt junior quarterback Tino Sunseri received on his cell phone during a recent communications class wasn't actually an emergency.

But that's what he told the professor because it made Sunseri's pulse quicken like the building was on fire.

The call came from former NFL quarterback Archie Manning, who invited Sunseri to the Manning Passing Academy last Thursday through Sunday at Nicholls (La.) State University.

"I jumped on it," Sunseri said. "I wanted to go down there and absorb all I could."

Sunseri, who is entering his second season as the Pitt starter, worked out with New York Giants quarterback Eli Manning, participated in discussions with former NFL coach Jon Gruden and NFL Network analyst Mike Mayock and served as an instructor for the camp's youngest participants.

Sunseri said he was one of 30 college quarterbacks invited to the camp and the only Big East starter. Among them were Heisman Trophy runner-up Andrew Luck of Stanford, Boise State's Kellen Moore, who was fourth in the voting, and Oklahoma's Landry Jones.

The quarterbacks exchanged phone numbers and Twitter handles, and Luck even promised to visit Sunseri in Pittsburgh the next time he is in Morgantown, W.Va., where his family moved after his father Oliver was named athletic director at West Virginia.

One moment that grabbed Sunseri's attention was the day the Colts' Peyton Manning spoke. He didn't work out with the quarterbacks after undergoing offseason neck surgery, but his words meant almost as much as anything he could have done on the field, Sunseri said.

"As soon as he stands up and starts to vocalize, everybody stops what they're doing and takes everything in," he said.

Sunseri said Peyton and Eli Manning were difficult to please during drills.

"They expected a ball to be a certain way, and if it wasn't there, they told us it was a bad ball, even if it was caught by the receiver," he said. "It really bothered them when it wasn't there or the receiver had to reach back for the ball."

Sunseri said the Mannings, Gruden and Mayock discussed many other aspects of playing quarterback that he hopes to incorporate into his game when Pitt summer camp opens Aug. 8.

"How do you work in the offense, how do you prepare, how do you work in the offseason, how do you get yourself ready to handle pressure in the pocket," he said. "A lot of information is being exchanged and you are soaking everything up."

NOTES: Cornerback E.J. Banks, a 2009 Montour High School graduate, has left Notre Dame and enrolled at Pitt where he will sit out the 2011 season in compliance with NCAA transfer rules. Banks was a four-year starter at quarterback and safety at Montour. ... Backup center Brandon Sacco, who would have been a redshirt freshman, has left the Pitt football team. He joined the Panthers last season from Don Bosco (N.J.) Prep.

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