As the NFL Draft is just 10 days from commencing, ESPN has began to air a new show hosted by college football analyst Kirk Herbstreit called “QB21” that highlights the upcoming quarterback class.
On Sunday morning, a clip of Kyle Trask’s sit down with Herbstreit aired on SportsCenter with NFL Hall of Famer Peyton Manning appearing as a guest star via video call.
Selected as the first overall pick in the 1998 draft, Manning became a superstar in the NFL during his 18 season, but experienced some growing pains early on.
As a result, the two-time Super Bowl winner offered Trask with wise words when asked about the difficult transition from college to the pros.
Beginning with the fact that Trask sits as a developmental option for quarterbacks in the NFL, his immediate insertion into the offensive attack of his NFL squad is unlikely, creating a viable adjustment period for the former Gators star.
“I would just tell you that that's going to help you in this transition and anything that comes your way in pro football," Manning said to Trask. "Kirk's heard me talk about this before, my rookie year in the NFL. I played four years in the SEC, thought I was fully prepared. Threw 28 interceptions my rookie year. That's still an NFL rookie record,” a record he is fine with any newcomer taking in the near future.
“If you want to break that, Kyle, that's fine with me," Manning joked.
Going more in depth into the game itself, the 14-time pro bowler said “if I could go back and do my rookie year all over again, I think there's a fine line, Kyle, between respect the game and the speed of it but not over-respecting it where you're hesitant. You think, 'Oh, I can't make that throw. That's an NFL defensive back. There's no way I can throw that. I think I probably did a little bit of too much of that, and maybe over-respected it and I just didn't play well,” he continued. “But give it the respect that it does deserve, right? These NFL defensive backs, they can cover. The windows are tighter. There are certain throws that you just can't make and you've got to throw it away. That was my hardest thing.”
"But just like you, I just kept working, kept persevering, trying to learn just how fast the game was, try to get more comfortable and certainly that game's going to slow down and you're going to get in that comfort zone. So just kind of be prepared for anything is what I would tell you. Keep working. Keep trying to learn. But coming out of Florida, coming out of a great program, playing in the Southeastern Conference — that's going to pay a lot of dividends for you, I think, and just wish you the best of luck, pal."
Trask’s next step to the NFL is one that will likely boil down to his fit in the scheme of his future team. Showcasing a hard work ethic and consistency to stay motivated even in times as a reserve, Trask presents an intriguing option for a team looking for a quarterback in as early as the late first round.
Posting absurd numbers in his final year with the Gators and Dan Mullen, Trask finished the year as a Heisman finalist, totaling 4,238 passing yards with a 68.9% completion percentage, 43 touchdowns and just eight interceptions on the season.
Proving he can excel with the opportunities presented to him at the collegiate level with ultimate patience, Manning’s advice to Trask offers hope that his patience and hard working mentality allows him to adjust in a big way once drafted.
The full-version of the Trask’s one-on-one with the College Gameday figure head will debut Monday at 7 p.m. on ESPN.