Walker Valley Quarterback Kolten Gibson, second from right, is observed by Peyton Manning, right, during a drill at the Manning Passing Academy in Thibodaux, La.
A weekend in Louisiana just might prove to be the highlight of the summer for Walker Valley quarterback Kolten Gibson and wide receiver Zach Eslinger.
The QB and receiver journeyed to Thibodaux this past weekend to take part in the 21st Annual Manning Passing Academy, which was held at Nicholls State University.
The Manning Passing Academy is considered to be one of the top camps in the country for high school athletes and was an opportunity that both Gibson and Eslinger were glad to take advantage of.
Arriving in Louisiana on Thursday, the Mustang duo was instantly introduced to their greatest hardship of the weekend — the heat. While they were in Thibodaux, the temperature never fell below 95 degrees.
“It was very hot — you walked outside and it was like ‘Oh my gosh.’ You just wanted to go back inside,” Gibson said.
“Just by walking to the fields I was already drenched in sweat,” Eslinger added.
The deep south heat wasn’t enough to distract the two from the valuable experiences presented at the MPA, which came to a close on Sunday.
“We’d have a practice in the morning from 8:30 to 11 and then a practice from 2 to 4. After that it would be a 7-on-7 thing. Repetition was big, they kept doing drills over and over,” Gibson detailed. “Playing in the 7-on-7 tournament at the end was a lot of fun. Everybody got to play receiver, quarterbacks got to play receiver and defense, it was just fun.”
While Gibson enjoyed working with University of Minnesota quarterback Mitch Leidner and Murray State quarterback KD Humphries, the icing on the cake came when Peyton Manning worked with his group.
“It was awesome. He only went to a couple of groups and we were lucky enough (to be one of them). He worked with us on some drops, three-step drops and quick hits and stuff like that. I feel like I learned a lot from him,” Gibson said. “It was great experience, I mean who gets to meet Peyton Manning and play with him?”
Eslinger was able to work with a fair share of big names, too.
“I got to work with a former UT Vol, Charles Davis — He was a DB there. He was really nice, a great guy. I learned a lot from him too, he was a good coach. That was a great experience for me,” Eslinger began. “I got to work with some college quarterbacks and they threw it to me a little bit. Baker Mayfield, Josh Dobbs — I got to work with a bunch of them.”
Working with the college players, who serve as MPA coaches, proved to be very beneficial for the pair.
“Everyday just do your best to get better,” Eslinger stated. “It was a great experience to learn from all of these college people — I have to take advantage of it.”
The other high point for the QB and receiver was getting to play together in the 7-on-7 tournament.
“He actually threw a touchdown to me,” Eslinger declared. “It was really neat.”
“Two touchdowns,” Gibson added.
Kolton Gibson, Archie Manning and Zach Eslinger
Kolton Gibson and Peyton Manning
Zach Eslinger and Charles Davis
Kolton Gibson under the watchful eye of Peyton Manning