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Saints QB Garrett Grayson's career propelled by meeting idol Peyton Manning

METAIRIE, La. – A year before he became a New Orleans Saints quarterback, Garrett Grayson took a trip to Southern Louisiana that was critical to his development.

Grayson was invited to participate in the annual Manning Passing Academy in Thibodaux, Louisiana. Not only did he get to meet his longtime idol Peyton Manning (the reason why Grayson wears No. 18), but Grayson’s offensive coordinator, Dave Baldwin, talked a lot last year about what a huge confidence boost Grayson got from seeing how he measured up against other top college QBs at the camp (including Jameis Winston, Marcus Mariota, Bryce Petty and Brett Hundley, among others).

“Peyton’s somebody I’ve looked up to my whole life, kind of been my idol,” Grayson said of the New Orleans native, who got to watch Manning perform in various drills over the course of the four-day camp as well as sit in on a Q&A session with Peyton and Eli Manning and the other college QBs who volunteer as instructors for the youth camp.

“We got to sit down in a room with him and Eli and just talk football, how they prepare for the game, what they’re looking for in defenses. So that was something I learned from, just to kind of be around him and see how he approaches everything, that meant a ton,” Grayson said. “You always hear about what a perfectionist he is, how seriously he takes every single drill. So to get to meet him and be around him and see that in person, I kind of learned from that and took that back.

“Looking back on my senior year, that’s another thing why I had so much success, because I wasn’t taking things like even a simple three-step drop for [granted]. I was serious with everything I did. So I’m definitely thankful for that opportunity.”

Archie Manning, the former Saints quarterback who has run the camp for 20 years now, said he remembered Grayson as a “real nice kid” who was eager to take part. Grayson was recommended to Manning by one of Manning’s old teammates, Jimmy Stewart, who Manning said has Colorado State ties now.

“I kind of followed him after that,” Manning said of Grayson. “And of course, he had a great year. He actually texted me when he [got drafted], so I’ve heard from him since and he’s real excited.”

In case you missed it, check out my detailed profile from last week on Grayson's resilient career at Colorado State, which swayed the Saints to draft him with the 75th pick -- the highest they've taken a QB in the standard draft since Manning himself in 1971.