By Zac Ellis
Kyle Shurmur’s trip to the Manning Passing Academy last weekend was business as usual for the Vanderbilt senior.
“I knew what I was getting into,” Shurmur said. “I was prepared for the long days.”
For the second straight summer, the Commodores’ veteran quarterback joined several of college football’s top signal-callers at the elite camp hosted by the legendary Manning family in Thibodaux, La. It was an opportunity for Shurmur to serve as a counselor for young campers while gleaning advice from Archie, Peyton and Eli Manning ahead of his final season at Vanderbilt.
“It’s a fun chance to pick the brains of Peyton, Eli and other college quarterbacks on things that would help me,” Shurmur said. “I’d share experiences that I’ve had and listen to their own experiences. It’s always beneficial to be with those who play your same position and understand what you’re going through. They can speak the language and understand the process and preparation.”
Shurmur enters the 2018 season as one of the most seasoned quarterbacks in the SEC with 30 starts during his Vanderbilt career. Last season, Shurmur set a new program single-season record with 26 touchdown passes. With 2,963 more passing yards and 20 touchdown passes this fall, Shurmur would finish as Vanderbilt’s career leader in both categories, surpassing former Commodore great Jay Cutler.
This spring and summer, Shurmur has adjusted to the departure of three senior receivers and Vanderbilt’s all-time leading rusher, Ralph Webb. Junior Kalija Lipscomb (610 yards and eight touchdown catches in 2017) is the squad’s leading returning receiver, with Donaven Tennyson, tight end Jared Pinkney, wide receiver Chris Pierce and Ohio State transfer Alex Stump expecting to become bigger targets for Shurmur.
The veteran responsibility on Shurmur’s shoulders is why a trip to the Manning camp is valuable for the senior, said Vanderbilt quarterbacks coach Gerry Gdowski.
“The Manning Passing Academy is a great experience for Kyle,” said Gdowski. “The biggest thing is being around guys like the Mannings and other college quarterbacks who play the position. Through it all, Kyle gets a chance to get a little work in and pick up something that may help him down the road. But as a senior, Kyle’s biggest attribute is his work ethic. He likes the work, enjoys it, and it’s infectious with his teammates.”
Shurmur spent time working on mechanics while at the Manning Passing Academy, but he also soaked in what he could from the Mannings from a 30,000-foot view. The quarterback will be the face of the Commodores in 2018, so he purposely sought the Mannings’ advice on how best to handle a brighter spotlight.
“A lot more broad-based things: how to learn from film sessions, preparation, mindset going into games, how to lead your teammates,” Shurmur said. “We’d get into football mechanics, but it was more about how to handle situations based on their experience in the NFL and college.”
Zac Ellis is the Writer and Digital Media Editor for Vanderbilt Athletics.