THIBODAUX – Tanner Lee has come full circle rather quickly.
Two years ago, Lee was a senior quarterback at Jesuit when he attended the Manning Passing Academy on the Nicholls State University campus.
“Two years ago, I was a camper. It was great. I was so star struck when I first met Peyton Manning,” Lee recalled. “My coaches wanted me to come and I wanted to be a counselor, that’s for sure. When we were standing out there the other night as a counselor, I was looking at all the campers and it was pretty cool to see that, swapping places.”
By swapping places, Lee has gone from former camp participant to counselor.
Players such as USC’s Matt Barkley were among the big-name college counselors when Lee was a camper. Tyler Wilson of Arkansas was Lee’s group leader.
“I followed him in the NFL. He played a little bit for the Raiders and now he has his own camp,” Lee said of Wilson.
Lee, coming off his freshman season at Tulane in which he was 185 of 336 passing for 1,962 yards and 12 touchdowns, liked the Manning Passing Academy so much, the Destrehan native returned a year ago – a neither a camper or counselor.
“Last year I came here for the workouts. I wasn’t a counselor. I just drove out here with some receivers to get the work in,” said Lee.
Lee came full circle with his recent return as a counselor.
“It’s completely different. You really get to see the Mannings and the coaches a lot more and it’s neat to hang out with a lot of guys you watch on Saturdays. For us to hang out together is a pretty special thing,” said Lee.
Among those who are now peers, guys like USC’s Cody Keller and Penn State’s Christian Hackenberg have caught the eye of Lee.
“Cody Kessler and Hackenberg and guys like that have been big-name guys for awhile now,” said Lee.
Despite 1,200 campers taking part in the event, a lot gets accomplished at the MPA, according to Lee.
“They have it down to a science,” Lee said of the MPA organizers. “We have meetings in the morning to let everybody know how things will run. When you get out there, you just have a lot of fun. The kids are rotating. I really enjoy coaching.”
At that point, Lee and the other counselors get to impart their knowledge.
“We all got assigned certain drills,” Lee said. “I was working on quick throws, no-step drops, wide-receiver screens, hot throws versus blitz sight defenses. The kids did well with it. I was emphasizing being quick with their feet but with throwing an accurate ball with pressure in their face.”
Lee, the counselor, was able to relate some of his own experiences as a player to younger guys who hope to follow in his footsteps one day.
“I was able to tell them we saw a lot of blitzes last year. I told them it gets pretty hectic in there and you never really have a clean pocket but when guys pop open or are uncovered, you have that quick ball, maybe not always have the laces. I was able to emphasize that it’s an important drill to take back with them and put into their daily routine in high school,” the Tulane quarterback said.