Manuel, the first quarterback to be selected by any team in Friday's NFL College Entry Draft, was picked by Buffalo in Round 16 Thursday evening in Radio City Music Hall. (More On the Draft Below)
"I heard that phone ring at 16 and I was smiling, ' he said, after arriving in Buffalo early Friday morning for a whirlwind radio interview at WBEN and it's Entercom sister stations. .
"It has been a little crazy," he said with an easy grin and polite demeanor, answering questions by calling Susan "Ma'am" and John "Sir".
-- E. J . Manuel
SEE VIDEO of Manuel with John Zach & Susan Rose
A native of Virginia Beach Virginia, Manuel was the most accurate passer at Florida State, where he completed nearly 67 percent of his passes. At 6 foot 5 inches tall and 237 pounds, Manuel has a strong arm, is mobile and went 25-6 in four years with the Seminoles.
" In Tallahassee, everybody loves Florida State football... The Florida State Seminoles were everything to us and I feel it's that same way (with fans) in Buffalo," Manuel said adding later "I know you guys love your football and are definitely trying to get back into a winning conversation and that's very similar to how it was when I went to Florida State. "
He says FSU hasn't missed a bowl game in 30 years and "post season play is what I am used too," adding that his main goal is to "get the playmakers the ball."
On the personal side, Manuel says he is not single, likes his chicken wings mild, is a fan of action movies and the occasional drama. He has hip-hop on his Ipod, and looks forward to exploring the Buffalo music scene..
He looks up to and has worked out with former Philadelphia Quarterback Donovan McNabb and says he admires the play of Jacksonville QB David Garrard. But perhaps his biggest football influence is his godfather - Buffalo Bills Defensive End Bruce Smith
"My dad and Bruce have known each other since third grade. Bruce has been pivotal in my progression from high school to college, and then from the College to the pros. To play with a team that he had such a great career with means a lot to me.," he says.
He says it is also " a a dream come true " to play with FSU alums on the Bills team, including linebackers Nigel Bradham and Zebrie Sanders, Punter Shawn Powell and longsnapper Garrison Sanborn.
He expects to be involved with community work in Buffalo on behalf of cancer survivors . His mother, Jackie, with him in New York City last night, is in remission from breast cancer, he said. She's still undergoing radiation therapy but is back at work.
"Her hair is growing back; she's starting to look like herself," Manuel told the Associated Press last night
"If we can develop this guy, he has the talent to take you to the dance. This guy was further along than most of them as far as his knowledge of the game. ... This guy, to us, has got leadership qualities. He's smart. And he's big."
-- Bills general manager Buddy Nix
The Franchise QB?
Analysis on The WBEN Liveline from
Bills Color Analyst Mark Kelso & AP's John Wawrow
Aside from swapping first-round picks, Buffalo also acquired the Rams' second- and seventh-round selections (46th and 222nd overall). The teams also exchanged third-round picks.
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EJ Manuel told himself he wasn't going to cry.
But then he heard his name called and thought about all his family has gone through to get to this moment, when the Florida State star became the first quarterback picked in this year's NFL draft.
His mother, Jackie, is in remission from breast cancer, he said. She's still undergoing radiation therapy but is back at work.
"Her hair is growing back; she's starting to look like herself," Manuel said. "I'm just ecstatic right now."
The Buffalo Bills took Manuel with the 16th pick - the only quarterback selected in the first round. One of the first people to hug Manuel was West Virginia's Geno Smith, a popular prediction to be the first QB drafted. Instead, Smith wasn't taken in the first round at all.
The two have known each other since 10th grade.
"That says a lot about Geno's character," Manuel said.
This was the latest the first QB has gone since 2000, when the Jets took Chad Pennington 18th. Since then, a quarterback had been selected with the first overall pick 10 times in 12 years.
Over that span, an average of nearly three QBs have been taken in the first round each year.
Now Manuel will be the standard-bearer for what was considered a weak class for quarterbacks.