Manning Gets Advice from Former Rebel Star
Friday, June 28, 2002
By RALPH D. RUSSO
AP Sports Writer
JACKSON, Miss. (AP) -- Deuce McAllister has dealt with the glare of the spotlight that now shines brightly on Eli Manning.
McAllister, the former Mississippi star, has some advice for the Rebels' famous quarterback.
"Just be yourself," the New Orleans Saints running back said.
Manning and McAllister were at the Mississippi Sports Hall of Fame and Museum in Jackson on Thursday for promoting the Conerly Trophy -- the award given to the Magnolia state's best college football player.
McAllister won the Conerly Trophy in 1999 as a junior. He went into his senior year as the most talked-about college football player in Mississippi in decades. Ole Miss promoted him as a Heisman Trophy candidate and he was rated one of the top NFL prospects among seniors.
But injuries slowed McAllister and his senior season turned out to be a disappointment.
Manning, already the most popular player in Ole Miss history because of his lineage, won the Conerly Trophy last year after a record-setting sophomore season.
Now, Manning is being mentioned as a possible Heisman Trophy candidate and he's already been projected as one of the first picks in next year's NFL draft if he decides to forego his senior season.
McAllister said it is impossible to avoid the extra attention, so Manning should just go about his business as usual.
"Just let Eli be Eli. Don't worry about it. Accept the hype. Go out there and accept the challenge," McAllister said.
So far this preseason has been quieter than last for Manning. Going into his first season as a starter, he drew national attention simply for being Peyton Manning's little brother and Archie Manning's son.
"It's cooled down a little bit, which I like. If I don't have to give interviews, I'm happy," Manning said.
He said he hasn't given much thought to whether this will be his last season at Ole Miss.
"I'm enjoying college right now. I love Oxford. I love college football," he said. "I don't want to leave right now, I know that. I'm having too much of a good time. We're just going to see how the season goes and figure it out from there."
As for the Heisman Trophy, McAllister thinks Manning has the right personality to deal with the hubbub that goes with being in the running for college football's most prestigious award.
"As long as Eli stays humble and he doesn't let it go to his head, which I don't think he will, I think he has a great shot at winning it," McAllister said. "If he can avoid the injury bug like I couldn't, he has a great shot at doing well."