When Florida State travels to Virginia Tech on Thursday night, it will be a homecoming of sorts for quarterback EJ Manuel, who grew up in Virginia Beach, Va., and was recruited by the Hokies.
Manuel and Virginia Tech quarterback Logan Thomas, a native of Lynchburg, Va., have gone in different directions this season, despite similar beginnings. Manuel ranks second nationally in passing efficiency (174.03) having completed 70 percent of his passes this season for 2,315 yards. Thomas has plummeted from a first-round draft hopeful to off the boards after throwing 13 touchdowns and 12 interceptions this season.
Virginia Tech coach Frank Beamer said he recruited Manuel, but understood his decision to go to Florida State, especially considering former quarterback Tyrod Taylor already had a firm grasp on the position at the time.
“We like the one we got from the state of Virginia,” Beamer said. “I think Logan is an excellent quarterback.”
Thomas has just taken the brunt of the criticism this year for the Hokies’ struggling offense, which is No. 7 in the ACC at 27.1 points per game. Beamer said he spoke with Thomas following the Hokies’ 30-12 loss to Miami last week and continued to encourage him. Thomas threw two interceptions against the Canes, but he also ran for 124 yards and a touchdown and threw for 199 yards.
“My thing with him is, I appreciate his toughness very much,” Beamer said. “I don’t want him to put too much load on himself. I think the quarterback is always going to be a key point. … It’s just one of those things where you’ve just got to play your game. He is certainly playing good enough. I really admire how he has played. He wants to win so badly and it hurts him when he doesn’t, and that’s the kind of guy you appreciate.”
For Manuel, this will be his first game in his home state since high school. Despite Virginia Tech fans' displeasure with their own offense, Manuel said he is expecting their venom to come his way in Lane Stadium.
"It's going to be crazy," Manuel said, according to Seminoles.com. "They are going to hate us, I know that. They are going to hate me being that I am from Virginia and I came here. I already know what to expect."
Unfortunately, so does Thomas.