File this under “unexpected.” Eastern Illinois has added former New Mexico State quarterback Andrew Manley to their roster. Manley, the full time starter last season for the Aggies, has two years of eligibility which begin this fall.
Of course, the Panthers have a quarterback for this fall, and quite a good one at that in Jimmy Garoppollo. There can’t seriously be a QB controversy for this season for the defending Ohio Valley Conference champions, right?
Last season, Manley threw for 2,764 yards for the FBS Aggies, adding 18 touchdowns. That yardage total was fourth best in the Western Athletic Conference, and 47th in the nation. He threw for a pair of 300-yard games, both against FBS opponents.
If the Panthers are looking for a post-Garoppollo quarterback, Manley will only be an option for one year. Quite a good option at that, but it all brings up a good question: why would a starting QB for an FBS team move down to the FCS level to sit behind another QB for a year and lose a year of eligibility while doing so?
Turns out, he was about to lose the starting job at New Mexico State. And even the backup job.
While EIU is just announcing the move today, the decision was apparently made back in May. According to the Las Cruces Sun-News, Manley, a drop-back QB, didn’t fit well in the team’s new offensive scheme brought in by their new head coach, and finished spring practices third on their depth chart.
Manley has already set out a year due to injury, so he cannot redshirt this season.
From the department of “fun facts,” Manley is now the third player on the Panthers roster from Hawaii, joining Kamu Grugier-Hill and Pono Choy.