Posted by Chip Patterson
Sunday was dedicated to the players at the ACC Football Kickoff. Two representatives from each of the 12 schools made their rounds with the media. This was my takeaway from Florida State
The buzz about Florida State is unmistakable down at the ACC Football Kickoff in Pinehurst. All through Tallahassee this offseason we've heard that "Florida State is back." One thing that is most certainly "back" for Florida State is ACC title expectations. Claiming that the Seminoles are "back" is something that quarterback E.J. Manuel is not comfortable saying, but he seems to understand why people have been talking.
"Me personally I have no control over that. People are going to say what they want and have their own opinions. But I think that's going to be settled when we actually go out there and play," Manuel said. "I'm not going to say "we're back" or anything like that because that would be taking respect away from those teams that were what Florida State is now. That's what we're working towards, and hopefully we do get to that point.
"I don't mind it, I can't control it. If that's what people want to say we appreciate it, but you also have to go out there and do it."
Manuel, a junior, has as much pressure as anyone else on the roster, being one of the few new starters on the depth chart. But the quarterbacking duties are not unfamiliar to Manuel, who saw several games of action while backing up former Seminole Christian Ponder. Manuel was asked Sunday how he thought he compared to Ponder, now a first-round draft pick of the Minnesota Vikings.
"I think we are more similar than different," Manuel said. "A lot of people want to say I'm more of a runner, he's more of a thrower. But I think Christian can run the ball and throw the ball, and I can do the same. But personality-wise, everybody's different. I wouldn't say I'm just like Ponder or anything like that but I think we are both intelligent young men and want to win."
Manuel exhibits a confidence that makes you want to believe he is destined to be the next great quarterback from the Virginia Beach area. While his appearances in Ponder's stead were sporadic and inconsistent across his career, the back-to-back performances against Virginia Tech in the ACC title game and leading the game-winning drive against South Carolina in the Chick Fil-A Bowl have changed the public's expectations from Manuel.
As he said himself, now they just need to "go out there and play."