Former Louisville quarterback Teddy Bridgewater and Johnny Manziel of Texas A&M are competing for the top spot in the NFL Draft.
LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) – Teddy Bridgewater is bunked in Bradenton, Fla., working daily with quarterback guru Chris Weinke at the IMG Academy.
Johnny Manziel is bunked in San Diego, working daily with quarterback guru George Whitfield at Prolific Athletes.
Despite the thousands of miles of separation, Bridgewater and Manziel are locked in a fierce competition. What's at stake?
The opening item in the Monday Rewind to begin with. That's critical. Then there is also the prestige of being the first pick in the 2014 NFL Draft – or least being the first quarterback selected, probably by the Houston Texans. The Texans have the first pick, but could always make a deal.
As I wrote last week after a visit to IMG, Bridgewater wants to be that guy. "It's just very important because I just feel that my entire life I have worked hard," Bridgewater said.
Manziel is not giving one link on the first-down chains. He's always been the more outspoken personality – and that has not changed since Manziel left Texas A&M to show that he's serious about becoming an NFL star.
"It would be the worst decision they've ever made," Manziel said. "I'd be in the same division playing against them twice a year. Sorry, but you just turned that chip on my shoulder from a Frito into a Dorito."
Manziel, obviously the home-area favorite, was simply warming up. He believes in himself as strongly as Bridgewater believes in Teddy Bridgewater. The difference is that Manziel says it with more sizzle.
"They (the Texans) have the first pick," Manziel said. "I want them to say absolutely, without a doubt, 100 percent certainty, that I'm who they want. I want everybody from the janitor at Reliant Stadium to the front-office executive assistant all the way up to (owner) Bob McNair to say that this is 100 percent, can't miss, this is who we want being the face of our program. We want the Texas kid staying in Texas and leading the Texans."
Bridgewater is never going to talk the way Manziel talks. He said he has stopped looking at the mock drafts and asked family members and friends not to share with him what people are saying.
"I don't pay attention to it because it's just word of mouth," Bridgewater said. "Until it actually happens, I'm going to continue to work hard each and every day to make it a reality and make it something that does happen.
"It's not hard at all (to block out). Around here training, we're never satisfied at IMG. Chris, he's not big on getting beside yourself and patting yourself on the back too much. He understands the whole process, and I understand it also. Hey, they can talk about you, but it's your job to go out there and continue to work hard and just prove what they're saying is right."
In others words, most of the draft talk today is little more than high-octane gossip. The draft process does not get serious until general managers and scouts have watched more video and observed all the top prospects at the NFL Scouting Combine in Indianapolis, which starts Saturday in Indianapolis, and individual pro days.
"So many people have enjoyed watching Teddy play at Louisville and he's had great success," Weinke said. "He's carried himself the way he's supposed to carry himself. So I think everybody is hoping that good things happen to him.
"I truly believe that good things will happen to him. You don't want people to get too enamored with, ‘Hey, if he's the number or pick or not.'"
"The key is that he goes to the right place, gets an opportunity and proves himself and becomes the franchise quarterback."
HOOSIER HARD TIMES – The state of Indiana loves its college basketball. But people across the state cannot be celebrating the scenario that is unfolding this winter.
There are 10 Division I programs in the state. If the season ended today, none of the 10 teams would make the 68-team field for the NCAA Tournament.
Indiana and Purdue are parked in the second division of the Big Ten. Butler has discovered that life in the Big East is considerably more daunting than life in the Horizon League. Notre Dame is scrambling to compete in the ACC.
Indiana State is probably the best team in the state. Larry Bird should be proud. The Sycamores have victories over Notre Dame, Ball State and Evansville. But ISU trails Wichita State in the Missouri Valley Conference. The Sycamores don't have strong enough numbers in the power rankings to be in line for an at-large bid if they don't win the Valley conference tournament.
PLAY BALL – Major-league teams have reported to spring training. The newsstands are packed with pre-season magazines.
What is the outlook for the Cincinnati Reds?
Pretty solid, according to the Athlon Sports Yearbook. Athlon picks the Reds to finish second, behind St. Louis (of course) in the National League Central. But the magazine expects the Reds to make the post-season as one of the two wild-card teams.
First baseman Joey Votto is ranked seventh on Athlon's list of the Most Valuable Player candidates in the NL, with Carlos Gonzalez of Colorado the favorite. Former Louisville Bat Billy Hamilton is projected to finish as the runner-up as NL Rookie of the Year. Athlon's front-runner is New York catcher Travis d'Arnaud.