MORGANTOWN — oooooo
In truth, both Manuel and Smith were part of two of the great quarterback recruiting classes of the modern recruiting era, neither at the top.
Athlon Magazine ranked the best classes of the past 10 years and put the 2006 class at the top with Manuel’s 2008 class second and Smith’s 2009 class third.
The 2006 class produced two Heisman Trophy winners and six first-round draft picks, three national championships and seven BCS bowl wins.
It included Tim Tebow — how’s that for irony? — Matthew Stafford, Sam Bradford — who will be throwing this year to Tavon Austin and Stedman Bailey — Andy Dalton, Colin Kaepernick, Jack Locker and Case Keenum at the top, to say nothing of the aforementioned Christian Ponder, Josh Freeman, Greg McElroy, Todd Reesing, Nate Davis, Juice Williams, TJ Yates, Ricky Stanzi, Thaddeus Lewis, John Skelton, Scott Tolzien and Nathan Enderle.
Before it’s all over, the 2008 class might prove to be better, its superstars being Andrew Luck, Robert Griffin III, Collin Klein, Landry Jones and Blaine Gabbert, along with Manuel, Terrelle Pryor, Dane Christ, Darron Thomas, Mike Glennon, Seth Doege, Tyler Wilson, Colby Cameron, Sean Renfree, Ryan Nassib, Matt Scott, Nick Florence, Zac Dysert, Alex Carder and Jacory Harris.
And Smith’s class wasn’t exactly a slouch, either, with him, AJ McCarron, Aaron Murray, Matt Barkley, Tajh Boyd, Taylor Martinez, Denard Robinson and Jordan Lynch included.
In fact, strange as it may seem, Boyd almost was WVU’s quarterback and not Geno Smith.
Boyd, out of Virginia Beach, committed to West Virginia during the spring of his junior year in high school, only to eventually change his mind and commit to Clemson.
It wasn’t until Boyd dropped his commitment that WVU went hard after Smith, who was being recruited by Alabama. Doc Holiday, then on Bill Stewart’s staff, went down and put the sell on Smith, who was playing for former Mountaineer linebacker Damon Cogdell.
“I have no idea about Tajh’s situation,” Smith a couple of years ago. “It was a situation where Doc came down, and he really started talking to me right after my Alabama visit and I just felt like West Virginia was the place for me. I had no idea what Tajh did or anything, nor was I trying to shy away from any competition.
“Tajh is a really good quarterback,” said Smith. “I’ve watched him play a couple of games and he’s done a great job. I want to be better than all of those guys, so I look at their game to try and elevate my game.”
It would appear that it worked out well for everyone, but best for Manuel and Smith, who have jump-started what could become big-time NFL careers.
Email Bob Hertzel at email@example.com or follow him on Twitter @bhertzel.