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Pac-12 quarterbacks make friend in FSU's Jameis Winston


LOS ANGELES -- There was little doubt that the quarterbacks in attendance for Pac-12 Media Days this week (and there were eight of them) were the stars of the show at a location -- Paramount Pictures -- that had more than a few of them running around the lot.

One thing just about every one of them brought up during their time with the media was the experience of going to the Manning Passing Academy over the summer and learning the ins and outs of the position from Peyton and Eli. As it turns out, they also seemed to make friends with one of their fellow signal-callers -- reigning Heisman Trophy winner Jameis Winston.

"You don't really get to know these guys because you are playing against them on Saturday and don't see them ever again, so you get to spend a lot of time with these people and get to know them," said Oregon State's Sean Mannion. "Jameis was my roommate so I spent a good deal of time with him, but I was also hanging out with a kid from Tufts. You get to know all these different people, know what it is like playing there. It was a fun experience."

Oregon's Marcus Mariota enjoyed the chance to spend some time with the Florida State quarterback.

"I met Jameis and talked with him a little," Mariota said. "I got to know Trevor Knight and Sean Mannion a little more. Those are two great guys. Everybody there was great, they welcomed us with open arms and it was a fun time."

Speaking of time, it seems all the Pac-12 campers learned a lesson from Johnny Manziel's turbulent experience last year, with Mannion noting that they did indeed set multiple alarms to make sure they wouldn't miss a session.

The Manning Passing Academy ended up providing not only serious instruction and competition, but also enough down time that the nine Pac-12 quarterbacks in attendance were able to mingle with their fellow colleagues. With so many signal-callers from out West, they naturally gravitated to those, like Winston, from the South that they weren't too familiar with and got to know them in real life as opposed to reading tweets or seeing them on the highlight shows.

"It was fun. It was me, Mannion, Maty Mauk from Missouri and Jameis Winston," said UCLA's Brett Hundley. "It was exciting to have them as my roommates and get to know them on a more personal level was a blast.

"We didn't even talk about football."

That might have been the case, but Hundley is still one of many that are gunning for Winston both in terms of a berth in the new College Football Playoff and the awards circuit with his budding Hundley-for-Heisman campaign. The entire Pac-12 crop that journeyed down to Louisiana for the event recognized that even though all of the quarterbacks at the MPA developed friendships that will last well past the their college careers, they are still ultimately competitors between the lines when it's game time.

"Once you get on the field, it changes your mentality. During the summer, it was all about the camp and the kids and helping them out," Mariota said. "Once the games get going and the season starts, though, it will be a lot more competitive."

There's little doubt about that, as Winston, Mariota, Mannion and others will take center stage this season to fight for accolades and draft position.

Follow Bryan Fischer on Twitter @BryanDFischer.

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