After a record breaking season as a junior, most experts expected El Toro (Lake Forest, Calif.) quarterback Conner Manning to have yet another big year as a senior.
Nobody could have predicted just how big a year it would be.
Simply put, Manning's numbers this season are astounding. In five games, Manning has completed 189 of 271 passes for 2,255 yards and 26 touchdowns, with only one interception. In his last game, Manning threw for an Orange County record 613 yards and a career best seven touchdowns. Despite the large yardage numbers, the fact that he has only thrown one interception in 271 attempts may be Manning's greatest feat.
Despite his personal success, Manning only pays attention to one number - the win column. "I let my friends and family worry about all the stats. The main ting I worry about is wins and losses. That's the only thing I worry about is making sure team is prepared to go 1-0 every week," Manning explained.
When pressed about individual accomplishments, Manning is quick to credit his teammates, who have helped the offense click so efficiently this season. "So far as a team we're playing really well. It's been a really fun season, and the way we've been playing on offense has pretty amazing. We've been moving the ball and putting up a lot of points.," he said.
A lot goes into Manning's success this year. Part comes as a result of El Toro's high octane pass-first scheme. However, Manning has shown an uncanny ability to make the right read and execute the offense to near perfection. "We go with a no huddle high tempo offense. We go really fast and get a lot of plays in per game. We throw a lot of short stuff, and then depending on how the defense reacts, we'll definitely throw down field as well and take our shots," he said.
"Every play I have a ton of reads. For each play, I have what would be three options [to throw to]. I go through a lot of progressions. I don't really audible too much because if one thing isn't good, we have a lot of other options," he continued.
The experience of competing at a high level last season has also helped Manning put up big numbers as a senior. "This has been our second year running this offense, so I'm really familiar with it. Over the offseason, I studied really hard to prepare myself and the team for the season. Also, our coach is great. He helps me a lot because I know what the guy next to me is doing and how he's going to do it. It's been a lot easier for me this year," he said.
On the recruiting front, Manning's success has resulted in increased interest from a number of Big 10 and Pac-12 programs. However, the talented quarterback insists that he remains solidly committed to Utah. "Some schools have started to reach out, but I've told them that I've committed to Utah Even if they still try to recruit me, I'm a Ute," he said.
Manning has paid close attention to the Utes so far this season, and is excited to join the team despite their early offensive struggles. "I've watched all their games so far. Offensively, it's hard because the [starting] quarterback [Jordan Wynn] went down, so it's hard to be as efficient as you want to be. [Backup quarterback Jon] Hays is still doing a good job. I'm really excited about the future. I'm very excited to be a Ute. I'm not going anywhere," Manning said.
Manning talks often with Utah coaches Aaron Roderick and Brian Johnson to stay connected to the team as well. "We talk once a week. They're just tremendous. Going into the whole recruiting process, I don't know if I could have developed a better relationship with them. They just great guys," he explained.
As El Toro enters the meat of the schedule, Manning hopes to continue leading his team to accomplish their ultimate objectives. "My main goal for every week is to be 1-0 that week. The team goal is to win league and to win CIF. I'm going to help my team the best I can to achieve these goals," he claimed.