Cody Fajardo is heading to Louisiana once again to help teach America’s youth how to become a better quarterback.
“It’s for the kids,” the Nevada Wolf Pack quarterback said on Tuesday before departing this week for the Manning Passing Academy in Thibodaux, La., this Thursday through Sunday. Fajardo will be among the three dozen or so college quarterbacks serving as counselors at the offensive skills camp run by Peyton, Archie, Eli and Cooper Manning for players entering grades 8-12 in the fall.
“We (the college quarterbacks) each have a 7-on-7 team and my team is the Wolf Pack,” Fajardo said. “It’s a lot of fun being there for the kids and getting to talk with the other quarterbacks.”
This will be Fajardo’s second Manning Passing Academy. He was at the camp at Nicholls State University last summer along with other standout college quarterbacks such as Matt Barkley of USC, West Virginia’s Geno Smith, Wyoming’s Brett Smith and Arkansas’ Tyler Wilson. Smith and Northern Illinois’ Jordan Lynch are expected to be among the returning starting quarterbacks joining Fajardo this week in Thibodaux.
“It’s just a great way for all the quarterbacks to get together,” Fajardo said. “When else would I get the chance to talk to a guy from the ACC? It’s a chance for us to get together and tell war stories.”
Fajardo says he is the resident pistol formation expert at the camp.
“I get a lot of questions about the pistol,” Fajardo said. “Everyone knows that’s what we run so that’s what I bring to the table. But we get a chance to talk, get to know each other a little bit, especially at night when we go out to eat. You learn a lot about what other guys do, like how they watch film. It’s just a great learning experience for everyone.”
The Manning Academy, Fajardo said, was a huge confidence booster for him last season.
“Just being there really helped my confidence going into last season,” Fajardo said. “You see all these big names who are going to be there, like Matt Barkley, and it’s a little intimidating. But when I got there, I saw that I could stack up with those guys so it was great for my confidence.”
Fajardo, a junior this fall, has an 11-9 record as a starter for the Wolf Pack. A year ago he passed for 2,786 yards and 20 touchdowns and rushed for 1,121 yards and 12 touchdowns. The quarterback has spent the past month working out with his teammates in 7-on-7 drills.
“It’s kind of run by me and my job is just to make sure we’re all on the same page,” Fajardo said. “I’m basically the offensive coordinator out there, calling the plays. It’s a lot of fun.”
Once fall camp starts in August, Fajardo will be working under a new play-caller this season in offensive coordinator Nick Rolovich. Rolovich was the Pack’s offensive coordinator last season but former head coach Chris Ault called the plays. This year it’s Rolovich’s offense from top to bottom.
Fajardo said he is excited to run Rolovich‘s version of the pistol.
“Our passing game is going to be excellent,” Fajardo said. “That’s where you’ll see the biggest difference. Our run game was already outstanding so why fix something when it’s not broke? But we’re definitely going to be improved in the passing game.”
Fajardo, who played at 205 pounds last year, now weighs 215 pounds.
My motto this year is “bigger, faster, stronger,” he said. “I’m doing everything I can to get better and prepare for the season.”
The Wolf Pack will open the 2013 season at UCLA on Aug. 31 at the Rose Bowl in Pasadena, Calif. And they will do it with a third-year starting quarterback who is on the watch lists of some prestigious national awards. Fajardo has already been named to the watch lists for the Maxwell Award and the Paul Hornung Award. The Manning Award, the Davey O’Brien Award, the Walter Camp Player of the Year Award and the Unitas Award will announce their watch lists later this summer.
Former Wolf Pack quarterback Colin Kaepernick, who took the San Francisco 49ers to the Super Bowl in February, was also on the watch lists for all the above awards as a senior in 2010 but did not win any of them despite leading the Pack to a 13-1 record and a No 11 national ranking. Fajardo knows it is a long shot for a quarterback at Nevada to actually win a national award.
“It takes victories,” Fajardo said. “When you play at a non-BCS school, you have to win a lot of games to even have a chance to win a award like those awards. But we have the talent to do it.”