Peyton Manning works out with Trojans
Super Bowl MVP attends USC's players-only throwing session Tuesday
By Ben Malcolmson
A few extra words of advice will never hurt, especially when they're coming from the reigning world champion.
Super Bowl MVP Peyton Manning attended Tuesday afternoon's throwing session, offering pointers to starting quarterback John David Booty and tossing balls to members of the USC receiving corps.
Heritage Hall was abuzz as Tuesday wore on to the late afternoon. Players had conditioning at 6:45 a.m., but they were buoyed by the rapidly spreading news of the special guest who would be attending the routine throwing session at 4:30 p.m.
"It's tight," wide receiver Patrick Turner said Tuesday morning, animated by noticeable excitement. "Let's go!"
Manning said he loved the experience.
"You like being around these guys, they like to work hard," Manning said of the Trojans.
A nine-year pro and two-time NFL MVP, Manning was in Los Angeles to film a commercial at the Coliseum. He called former Trojan Reggie Bush (the two know each other from a commercial shoot) on Tuesday morning to inquire about the Trojans' workouts. A phone call to Coach Pete Carroll and a day's worth of commercial filming later, Manning was at Cromwell Field on the USC campus throwing with six wide receivers and tight ends.
Manning peppered precise passes all over the field, highlighted by a 50-yard bomb down the right sideline to Turner. Between throws, he offered suggestions to Booty and gave the receivers route-running pointers with a calming Southern twang.
After one throw to wide receiver David Ausberry that was snagged beautifully along the sideline, Manning yelled out to Ausberry, "We've been throwing together for 10 years it seems."
"There's kind of an obligation to teach and help kids who want to get better if they're willing to ask and learn," Manning said. "You try to help them and give them any kinds of tips you can give them."
Ausberry said he was very thankful of the opportunity to throw with the Super Bowl champion, and other receivers were glowing when asked to describe the experience.
"That was crazy," Turner said. "He was on the money."
Booty was especially appreciative of the opportunity to throw with Manning, who has led the NFL in passer rating for three consecutive seasons.
"I could sit there and talk to him all day like I've known him forever," said Booty, who grew up in Louisiana, like Manning. "It was really special for me."
About two dozen players and a handful of spectators gathered to watch the throwing session. Among the onlookers was USC basketball coach Tim Floyd, who was a ball boy for the New Orleans Saints during the 1971 rookie season for Archie Manning, Peyton's father. Floyd has remained close friends with Archie ever since.
Though several Trojans were in awe of Manning, they also took the chance to learn from him.
"He came out there, he wanted to help, he opened up to me asking questions," Booty said. "You don't find many guys in his position who would do that, especially with guys they haven't met before."
USC head strength and conditioning coach Chris Carlisle was a strength coach at Tennessee when Manning was training for the NFL Draft in 1998. He said Manning's preparation and work ethic is an excellent example for the Trojans to follow.
"His physical and mental preparation for the game of football is good if not better than anyone else in football," Carlisle said. "He's been the top quarterback in the NFL for however many years, and you look at why he's there, and it's all because of his mental preparation." Manning did have one light-hearted qualm with the workout.
"These guys are calling me 'Mr. Manning' and saying 'Yes sir,'" the 31-year-old Manning said with a smile. "That makes me feel a little bit old."
After the hour-long throwing session, Booty asked Manning questions as the two walked to Howard Jones Practice Field, where Manning then did a short running workout. When Booty and Manning were parting ways as the afternoon passed into evening, Manning told the USC quarterback to call him anytime.
"I'll definitely shoot him a text sometime during the season," Booty said.