CORVALLIS, Ore. (AP) — The difference in Sean Mannion is marked: The once soft-spoken and reserved quarterback for Oregon State has blossomed into a confident full-fledged leader in his senior season for the Beavers.
"I think it's just growing older and getting more comfortable in your surroundings," said Mannion, a fifth-year senior. "At this point I've been here four, going on five years. You get comfortable with everyone and you get a feel about how to talk with your teammates about whatever is going on, good or bad. It happens with experience."
A perfect fit in Oregon State's pro-style offense, Mannion set a Pac-12 season record for yards passing last season with 4,662. He threw an Oregon State-record 37 touchdown passes, third-most for a single season in conference history.
Mannion, who has 10,436 career yards passing, needs 1,839 more this season to pass USC's Matt Barkley as the all-time Pac-12 leader. The Beavers open the season at home Saturday against Portland State.
His favorite target last season was Brandin Cooks, who became the Biletnikoff award winner as the nation's top receiver, setting a league record with 128 catches and a national-best 1,730 yards.
Cooks declared for the NFL draft a year early and went to the New Orleans Saints in the first round.
Mannion weighed his options and consulted the NFL Draft Advisory Board, which projected him as a third-round selection.
"I thought over the NFL, but ultimately I thought I could still make improvements at the college level. I know someday I want to go to the NFL, but I want to know I became the best college player I could first," he said. "From there it was an easy decision — I love it here at Oregon State. There's nowhere that I'd rather be right now, improving as a player and helping our team win games this season."
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