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Jimbo Fisher denies bad-mouthing EJ Manuel to NFL teams

Chris O'Meara/Associated Press
EJ Manuel starred at Florida State before being made a first-round pick of the Buffalo Bills.

Florida State coach Jimbo Fisher refuted an ESPN report that said he bad-mouthed former FSU quarterback EJ Manuel before the 2013 NFL Draft.

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ESPN's Adam Schefter reported that sources told him that while Fisher was positive about Manuel as a person and said he was a hard worker, Fisher also told teams about how limited he felt Manuel was as a prospect, that he didn't believe Manuel had the tools to be an NFL starter and that Manuel shouldn't be any better than a third-round pick.

But Florida State released a statement Sunday saying Schefter was wrong.

"I'm not sure why ESPN's Adam Schefter would not reach out to me to get my thoughts on EJ Manuel or check the accuracy of his report," Fisher said in the statement. "I never made those comments about EJ. I spoke to (former general manager) Buddy Nix of the Buffalo Bills and told him EJ is an outstanding young man and player. He was the face of our organization and would be a great one for them. I did not speak to any other teams, general managers or head coaches about EJ."

Fisher's quick response to the ESPN story wasn't surprising. When it's reported that a coach -- head coach or assistant -- was negative toward one of his players, it's imperative that the coach respond and give his side of the story. That coaches criticize their players to scouts and front-office personnel is a given; what they don't like happening is that criticism coming to light because it will be used against them on the recruiting trail. And in Fisher's case, he is saying the bad-mouthing did not even occur.

Manuel was the 16th overall pick in the 2013 draft and has started 14 games for the Bills. He was benched last week in favor of journeyman Kyle Orton, who rallied the Bills past the Detroit Lions on Sunday.

Mike Huguenin can be reached at You also can follow him on Twitter @MikeHuguenin.



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