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September 26, 2012TUSCALOOSA | The most legendary quarterback to ever put on an Ole Miss uniform has gotten a close look at a University of Alabama quarterback whose legacy has only begun to form.
And Archie Manning likes what he's seen of AJ McCarron.
McCarron has been to the Manning Passing Academy for the last two summers, a Thibodeaux, La., camp that draws many of the nation's top college quarterbacks each year. Manning, whose NFL quarterback sons Peyton and Eli are heavily involved with the camp as well, said he's noticed significant improvement in the Crimson Tide's junior signal-caller.
"I don't think there is any question AJ came back a more confident quarterback this year," Manning said. "From year one to year two at the camp, you could see he was more sure of himself. And of course he throws the ball extremely well."
McCarron ranks fourth in the NCAA in pass efficiency with a rating of 188.6, and has yet to throw an interception this season. He is completing 63 percent of his passes and has thrown for 10 touchdowns.
"I've had a chance to watch him play this year. You can see he's not forcing things, he'll throw it away if what he needs isn't there," Manning said. "He's just become a very smart quarterback. And he's a great kid."
Manning said McCarron would be invited back to the MPA for a third year in a row next summer.
Ole Miss (3-1) is playing its first Southeastern Conference game of the season at Alabama. Manning, who was on Ole Miss' search committee to find a new coach, said new Rebels coach Hugh Freeze appears to be the right man for the program.
"We've got a ways to go in terms of getting more competitive with the SEC, but I think Hugh Freeze is an excellent coach and a great fit," Manning added. "You know you can go get a great coach and not always have a great fit. Fit was something that was important when we looked at the candidates."
Reach Chase Goodbread at firstname.lastname@example.org or at 205-722-0196.