Manning thinks about turning pro as NFL awaits

ORLANDO, Fla. (AP) After throwing for 408 yards in a bowl game against Northwestern, Peyton Manning appears to have little left to prove at the college level.
Well, maybe he does.
Manning insists that moving on to the NFL is not a done deal after his magnificent performance in Tennessee’s 48-28 victory over Northwestern in the Citrus Bowl. He’ll take the next couple of weeks to ponder his options and try to decide if his next pass will come for a team like the New York Jets or New Orleans Saints.
“I’m really not sure,” he said. “I’ve talked to different people who say you’re never really ready (to turn pro), who say that your rookie year is going to be a struggle no matter what. … Obviously, it’s a big jump from college to the pros no matter when you make your decision.”
Just as obvious is Manning’s domination of the college game. Most of these 20-year-old defensive backs don’t stand a chance trying to stop him. He seems ready to seize his NFL destiny, something he’s been preparing for ever since he came into the world as the son of Archie Manning.
“If he made any bad throws,” Northwestern strong safety Eric Collier said after Wednesday’s bowl game, “I didn’t see them.”
“He was as good as advertised,” Wildcats coach Gary Barnett said in agreement.
Manning headed back to his hometown of New Orleans on Thursday. He watched the national championship game between Florida and Florida State, then planned to get down to the serious business of deciding his future.
“I don’t have a gut feeling about it,” Tennessee coach Phillip Fulmer said. “When Peyton Manning says he hasn’t made a decision, he hasn’t made a decision. He’s an honest person. I don’t know what he’s going to do. And I don’t think he knows.”
It’s really a can’t-miss choice. If he turns pro, Manning likely will be one of the top players selected in the April draft, assured of a multimillion-dollar contract that should set him for life at age 21. If he returns to Tennessee for one more season, he’ll be the overwhelming favorite for the Heisman Trophy, the quarterback of a team that should be one of the best in the country once again.
Fulmer stated his case for Manning to give the Vols another year.
“There’s not a lot I can tell him except he’ll be appreciated and his abilities will be used,” the coach said.
But Fulmer, who has talked extensively with Manning on two occasions about the pro options, realizes that this decision is largely out of his hands.
“Peyton and his family are very intelligent, very worldly people who understand the system professionally and understand it collegiately,” Fulmer said. “He has an advantage over an awful lot of kids who have to come out just to pay the rent. He doesn’t have to do that.”
And, unlike most underclassmen, Manning doesn’t have to make a decision by the Jan. 10 deadline. Since he is graduating in the spring, he can wait until April 4 to announce his plans.
Manning doesn’t plan to wait that long, but he’s going to take advantage of the extra time. Before he returns to classes on Jan. 15, he’ll have two full weeks to ponder his options.
“Obviously, I want to use that time wisely and make the best decision possible,” he said, “whatever it’s going to be.”
His father already has been exploring the NFL possibilities, and he now plans to share that information with his son
“He didn’t want to clutter my brain before the bowl game,” the younger Manning said. “My plan was to be open the whole time. I wanted to be open no matter what happened (in the Citrus). I wanted to be open when I finally sat down and asked questions of different people, talked to my family about it. Then I’ll just decide what’s best.”