College Spotlight: Mancuso spinning his own web of success
A quick search on the web (see what we did there?) about Spiders football showed many previews in which Joe Mancuso was the man to beat for the QB job at Richmond enter 2019. That job is officially his, as he opened the season with a solid performance against Jacksonville on Thursday, August 29 in a 38-19 win. The Union County product was 14-of-19 passing (74%) for 131 yards, and added 77 rushing yards while scoring two touchdowns.
To date, Mancuso has tallied 14 total touchdowns for Richmond over the past few seasons — 7 passing, 6 rushing, 1 receiving. He has thrown for 1,316 yards and rushed for another 466. This year he is primed for his best season yet.
Mancuso is a redshirt junior, and got his feet wet in the 2017 season while appearing in eight games in limited action as the holder. That season he didn’t attempt a pass, but collected 35 rushing yards and a TD. Then in 2018, he was thrust into a starting role after the season began. It wasn’t until October that he became the starter, and only then he got that title only four times. He stapled himself as the QB everyone knew he was. In 2018, Mancuso racked up 1,185 passing yards, completing 58% of his passes, and tossing 7 TD passes. He also showed his ability to run, coming up with 354 rush yards with 3 TD. He also had a TD reception good for 28 yards.
While last year wasn’t quite expected, this year is. Mancuso is the man for the Spiders, and it’s his job to lose. By the looks of the season-opener, that’s not something that’s likely to happen if the dual threat continues to not only play at this level, but lead his team to victory. He has welcomed the pressure and competition.
“It was definitely a challenge I was faced with trying to earn the starting job,” says Mancuso. “The other quarterbacks are very talented and we all worked super hard in the off-season, and I’m just glad I get to help my team win some games. I wouldn’t say I feel pressure in the starting job, I know my coaches and teammates trust me to get wins and be an impact on the field.”
Mancuso was one of Union County’s most decorated athletes ever, as he was an All-State selection in both 2014 and 2015, his junior and senior seasons. Through his career for the Panthers, he accumulated over 10,000 total yards. He threw for 8,190 yards with 88 TD, and rushed for 1,998 yards and another 21 scores.
At the time of his graduation, Mancuso’s passing yardage ranked 10th on the all-time career list in Georgia, and his 88 passing TDs ranked 5th all-time. His 109 total TDs was the 4th most in Georgia as well. His junior (2014) season was perhaps his best, when he threw for 3,081 yards and 35 TDs. He rushed for 422 and 4 TD that season. While battling injuries his senior year, he still put up a career high in total yards (3,545) and tied his career-best in total TD (39).
Success in high school doesn’t always carry over into college. Mancuso and others know there is a big leap from prep to college ball.
“I think the biggest adjustment for me was in the film room,” says Mancuso. “Since being in college, I have realized that studying film and understanding the game can help prepare me for what each team will be running. On the field, the biggest adjustment is the speed of the game. With experience comes more composure.”
We asked the stellar QB what he would tell his younger self if he had that opportunity. His answer, which is simultaneously great advice for today’s high school players is short and sweet.
“I would tell my younger self to stay composed on the field, and not let the outside noise affect how you play the game,” Mancuso states. “Stay focused, confident, and driven.”
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