FSU's Manuel: Kelly system 'would be easy transition'

987461.jpg

FSU's Manuel: Kelly system 'would be easy transition'

MOBILE, Ala. -- Five years ago, Chip Kelly tried to sell E.J. Manuel on the prospect of spearheading the explosive University of Oregon offense.

Tempting, but one problem. To run the Oregon offense, Manuel would have to attend school in Oregon.

I wanted to, man. But it was far, Manuel, the record-setting quarterback from Florida State, said Wednesday. Im from Virginia, so thats clear across the country and obviously Florida State coach Jimbo Fisher was the main person I wanted to play for. But I was really intrigued by coach Kelly. It was a great program, had great uniforms. That was something I liked as well. It was just too far.

Fast forward to 2013.

Kelly is the Eagles newest head coach, headquartered in South Philly and attempting to introduce his innovative college offense -- or some variation of it -- into the NFL. Manuel, one of the six quarterbacks at the Senior Bowl, is willing to relocate anywhere for the chance to be an NFL quarterback.

This time, Kelly needs no sales pitch. Just a draft pick.

When I first met him I was a high school guy, I didnt really know his offense, Manuel said. Obviously, watching him when I was in college ... very electric. Put a lot of points on the board. Thats the kind of offense people want to see on TV. I think if he brings that to the NFL hell bring life back to Philadelphia. Id love to be a part of it.

Manuel met with Kelly for 15 minutes Monday night as the 50 or so draft prospects involved in the Senior Bowl are funneled into meeting rooms and then ushered from one interview to another -- speed-dating style -- with the coaching staffs and personnel departments of almost every NFL team.

The Eagles have also met with two other quarterbacks -- West Chesters Ryan Nassib, a fast-rising prospect from Syracuse, and Arkansas Tyler Wilson -- and it can be safely assumed that each of the six will have sat down with Kelly and his staff before Saturdays game.

Manuel is perhaps the most intriguing prospect of the six because of his skill set and his potential in the offense Kelly plans to run. The 6-foot-4, 230-pound former Seminole passed for more than 3,000 yards this past season, rushed for more than 300 yards, totaled 27 touchdowns and left with Florida States career accuracy record.

Given the success this year of Robert Griffin III, Colin Kaepernick and Russell Wilson, three quarterbacks with great mobility and different draft pedigrees, it stands to reason that changes in the NFL game have helped boost Manuels stock.

Those guys are still throwing the ball vertically down the field at a high level, so you cant just say theyre runners, Manuel said. Theyre throwing the ball great and theyre still running great and thats whats breaking the defenses back out there.

Although the book on Manuel is that his accuracy dips in the face of heavy pressure and that his delivery isnt textbook, those flaws could potentially be masqueraded by an offense designed to capitalize on his ability to take off or just the threat of taking off, which is an advantage Kelly has discussed several times in the past week.

The Seminoles incorporated some of the same read-option concepts that have become trendy in the college ranks and are catching on for some NFL teams with mobile quarterbacks.

Just the fact that I can do the read option as far as reading the defensive end and doing the run off it or still throwing the bubble screen outside or doing the vertical game, Manuel said. I did a lot of that at Florida State. We didnt run the same exact offense as far as the option or the spread but I know I could do it. It would be an easy transition for me.

Manuel said the Noles went no-huddle about 70 percent of the time and preferred to line up without at least 13, 14 seconds left on the play clock, and then that way I could declare my middle linebacker, point out my sight adjustments, things like that.

Its unknown right now if Kelly is sold on the three quarterbacks the Eagles currently have under contract in Mike Vick, Nick Foles and Trent Edwards. Although the buzz around Mobile is that Kelly will lean toward a cleaner slate and seek someone from outside the roster to lead his offense, general manager Howie Roseman cautioned against jumping the gun.

He hasnt had the chance to watch tape, Roseman said. He does have a very good impression of the people on our roster. He has coached against Nick obviously. Everyone has watched Mike. He did coach against Trent, too, at one point when Trent was at Stanford. I think for him, he just wants to get behind closed doors, lock himself in, watch tape, come out and say, Lets have a discussion.

Until then, the Eagles are doing diligence here in Mobile with the crop of quarterbacks, a group of passers that noticeably lacks West Virginias Geno Smith and USCs Matt Barkley, two projected first-rounders who both decided to pass on invitations to play.

Manuel, currently projected as a mid-to-late round pick, seemed to think hes exactly the kind of guy for Kellys scheme and practically lobbied for the position.

I know I can do his offense, Manuel said. I hope he gives me the opportunity to play for him and kind of build the Eagle tradition back up. That would be nice.

Manuel didnt elaborate on what he and Kelly discussed Monday night but called the interview awesome and reflected on the time when Kelly once tried to lure him to across the country.

It was awesome just seeing him again, Manuel added. It wasnt like I had just met him for the first time. I had known him well for five years now. I was happy to see the success he had as a head coach at Oregon and Im sure hell do the same in the NFL.

Manuel also said he sensed that Kelly was fully committed to the Eagles and had put the college game behind.

Hes all ready to go, Manuel added I just hope he gives me an opportunity.

Email Geoff Mosher at gmosher@comcastsportsnet.com

Best of NHL: Sabres snap Blues' 6-game winning streak

Best of NHL: Sabres snap Blues' 6-game winning streak

BUFFALO, N.Y. -- Robin Lehner stopped 16 shots in the third period and 37 overall, and the Buffalo Sabres snapped the St. Louis Blues' six-game winning streak with a 3-2 victory on Saturday.

Evander Kane and minor-league callup Nicholas Baptiste each had a goal and an assist in Buffalo's third straight win, matching a season best accomplished three times. Ryan O'Reilly also scored for the Sabres (26-23-10), who have three more wins than losses for the first time since closing the 2011-12 season 39-32-11.

Vladimir Tarasenko also scored for St. Louis, which lost for the first time since a 4-1 defeat to Pittsburgh on Feb. 4 (see full recap).

Jets spoil Julien's return to Montreal
MONTREAL -- Patrik Laine and Mathieu Perreault each had a goal and an assist, and the Winnipeg Jets spoiled Claude Julien's return to Montreal with a 3-1 victory over the Canadiens on Saturday.

Joel Armia also scored for Winnipeg (27-29-5), and Connor Hellebuyck stopped 19 shots. The Jets had dropped five of six.

The Canadiens fired coach Michel Therrien on Tuesday and hired Julien in hopes of getting their season back on track. Julien also coached Montreal from 2003-2006.

But Julien's first game back was more of the same for the first-place Canadiens (31-20-8), who have lost three in a row and seven of eight (see full recap).

Senators top Leafs to gain on Canadiens
TORONTO -- Mark Stone had a goal and four assists, Derick Brassard scored twice in the third period and the Ottawa Senators recovered after blowing a two-goal lead to beat the Toronto Maple Leafs 6-3 on Saturday night.

The Senators pulled within two points of Montreal for first place in the Atlantic Division. Ottawa led 2-0 after one period but trailed 3-2 in the third before getting a tying goal from Mike Hoffman and a power-play goal from Brassard. Stone and Brassard added empty-netters, and Chris Wideman and Ryan Dzingel also scored for the Senators.

Ottawa has won four of five overall and three of four against the Leafs this season. Craig Anderson stopped 34 shots.

Morgan Rielly, Nazem Kadri and William Nylander scored and Auston Matthews had two assists for the Maple Leafs. Frederik Andersen allowed four goals on 40 shots (see full recap).

NBA All-Star Saturday: Glenn Robinson III dunk champion; Eric Gordon wins 3-point contest

NBA All-Star Saturday: Glenn Robinson III dunk champion; Eric Gordon wins 3-point contest

NEW ORLEANS -- Glenn Robinson III is the NBA's new dunk king, with an assist to Indiana teammate Paul George, the Pacers' mascot and a Pacers cheerleader.

Robinson leaped over all three, snagging the ball from George along the way before finishing with an emphatic, two-hand, reverse jam, giving him a perfect score -- and the title -- on his final dunk.

Robinson edged out Phoenix's Derrick Jones Jr., who was done in by his failure to complete his difficult first dunk of two in the final round.

Jones still managed a perfect score on his second dunk, when he received a bounce-pass in the paint, put it between his legs and threw down a left-handed jam. But Robinson made sure it wasn't enough.

In the 3-point contest, Houston's Eric Gordon dethroned Golden State splash brother Klay Thompson. Kristaps Porzingis of the New York Knicks won the Skills Challenge.

Both dunk finalists delighted the crowd with soaring slams over teammates and others that showcased the explosive spring in their vertical leaps.

Robinson had one dunk in which he leap-frogged one man sitting on another's shoulders, grabbed the ball from the elevated man's hands and slamming it home.

Jones jumped over four teammates including Devin Booker and Marquese Chriss in the first round. He also drew roars from the crowd when he took a pass off the side of the backboard from Booker with his right hand, put the ball between his legs to his left for a round-house jam.

The dunk that cost him was a bold one. He tried to leap a friend and the Suns' gorilla mascot, grab the ball on the way over, put it between his legs and then finish with a windmill. But he couldn't get the dunk to go down in his allotted three attempts.

DeAndre Jordan of the Los Angeles Clippers and Aaron Gordon of Orlando were unable to emerge from the first round. Jordan dunked over DJ turn tables and Gordon dunked after receiving a bounce pass from a drone that had flown over the court with the "Star Wars" theme music playing.

Eric Gordon got his win in New Orleans, where he played the previous five seasons before leaving last summer in free agency.

Gordon's score of 21 in a final-round tiebreaker defeated Cleveland's Kyrie Irving, the 2013 winner who had 18. The pair had each finished with a score of 20 in the final round, meaning they each had to shoot 25 more balls to decide it.

"I wasn't really concentrating on how many I made," Gordon said. "It's all about just knocking down the shot. I never counted in my head or anything. I just go out there and just shoot the ball."

Thompson was stunningly eliminated in the first round, missing a final shot from the corner that could have put him through ahead of Kemba Walker.

Big men reigned supreme for a second straight year in the skills competition, with the 7-foot-3 Porzingis beating Utah's Gordon Hayward in the final round.

Those vanquished in earlier rounds included guards John Wall of Washington and Isaiah Thomas of Boston, both because they couldn't make their initial 3-pointers required to close out the course before Hayward did, even though Hayward had trailed each of them dribbling down the court by a considerable margin before hitting his clinching shots.

Porzingis emerged from the big-men's division that included the Pelicans' Anthony Davis and Denver's Nikola Jokic.

"It's a good feeling that I'm able to showcase my skill with my size and show to the kids that you're capable of doing that even if you're tall and lanky like me," Porzingis said. "I think a lot of kids now growing up will improve those perimeter skills just seeing guys like -- I don't want to mention myself, but big guys with perimeter skills that can do it."

Porzingis and Hayward were neck-and-neck until the end of the course, but Porzingis hit his 3 first to end it.

The three-round, head-to-head obstacle-course competition tests dribbling, passing, agility and shooting skills.

Earlier on Saturday, Rollie Massimino, who coached Villanova to the 1985 NCAA championship, and Chris Webber were among the 14 finalists for this year's Basketball Hall of Fame induction class.

Others include NBA referee Hugh Evans, Connecticut star Rebecca Lobo, two-time NBA scoring champion Tracy McGrady, five-time All-Star Sidney Moncrief, Baylor women's coach Kim Mulkey, Kansas coach Bill Self and two-time NBA champion coach Rudy Tomjanovich.

Previous finalists returning to the ballot include point guard Tim Hardaway, record-setting high school coach Robert Hughes, Notre Dame women's coach Muffet McGraw, former Wisconsin coach Bo Ryan and 10-time AAU national champion Wayland Baptist University.

Enshrinees will be announced at the Final Four on April 3. The induction ceremonies in Springfield, Massachusetts are Sept. 7-9.