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August 15, 2012
Freshman quarterback Manny Stocker admits that he did not anticipate being the backup quarterback at the start of this year's preseason camp.
But when Brian Taylor gave up football after spring practices and Tyler Brosius decided to leave the program to pursue a potential baseball career at a junior college in Tennessee shortly before the start of camp, NC State was left with little choice but to have Stocker as its No. 2.
"Things happened the way they did, and I'm sure everything happens for a reason," Stocker said.
There is a silver lining in all this however. Stocker was able to graduate early from high school, enroll in January at NC State and participate in spring practices.
Stocker's primary motivation for enrolling in the spring was to get a jumpstart on classes.
"This is a crucial time for football, and I wanted to be very comfortable with the college situation before I got into it for a complete football season," he noted.
"I think it has helped me a lot. I understand college, how big of a deal it is. I'm taking it a lot more seriously than before I cam into college."
There were other side affects to Stocker coming early. He admitted that when he arrived at NC State fresh out of Coatesville (Pa.) Area High School, he weighed 190 pounds.
After spending the summer working with first-year strength and conditioning coach Corey Edmond and getting used to the early morning workouts, which Stocker said may have been the toughest adjustment about going from high school to college, Stocker has bulked up to close to 210 pounds, and he feels that he may be even more athletic than he was before.
That's scary for defensive coordinators since one of Stocker's strong suits coming out of high school, according to the scouting reports, was his athleticism. Last year at NCSU's summer camp he ran the 40-yard dash in 4.6 seconds.
Stocker though believes he is more than an athlete. He describes himself as a pro-style quarterback.
"I'm just like any other quarterback, looking for that big touchdown or looking to make plays," Stocker said. "However we can make plays, that's what we want to do."
Going through spring practice and offseason conditioning workouts have helped Stocker gain the confidence to be a playmaker in the offense. He admits he felt better throwing passes and knowing the playbook at the start of camp than he did in the spring.
He already had some comfort level with State's offense since Coatesville ran a similar package. It also does not hurt that his mentor on the team is fifth-year senior Mike Glennon, touted as one of the top quarterbacks in the ACC.
"Being able to learn behind Mike is a fast-learning tool," Stocker stated. "He does everything the right way, and I'm just learning how to do things the right way based upon following him, so everything is going fast.
"He's the prototypical NFL quarterback, he goes through his reads well ... Being able to follow behind someone like Mike is a great opportunity. Not every quarterback gets that opportunity, so now I know how to do the things the right way and he critiques me on things I don't do right so I can improve."
With the help of Glennon and the little bit of experience going through spring drills, Stocker is already a changed quarterback. He actually now relishes getting up early for workouts and "getting my day started." He also has seen a difference on the field in early practices.
"When I first came in, I don't think I was as comfortable with throwing, I didn't know where the receivers were going to be or the combinations of routes," Stocker said. "When we started camp, I felt a lot more comfortable throwing the ball.
"I feel like I know the offense now, I feel comfortable. Mike has helped me go through all my progressions and guided me through the way. I think it's a perfect situation."