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Russell Wilson shares same uncommon dedication to QB craft as Peyton Manning

Manning announces Colorado-based scholarship in Demaryius Thomas' honor at Colorado Sports Hall of Fame banquet

DENVER — Russell Wilson has figured out whom to best confide in his quest to do what Peyton Manning once did for the Broncos.

Peyton Manning himself.

It started as a teenager when Wilson was playing high school quarterback in Richmond, Va. and was dedicated enough to his craft that he attended the Manning Passing Academy as a camper one summer.

> Video above: Peyton Manning announces '18 to 88' scholarship grant in honor of Demaryius Thomas’ life and legacy

RELATED: Emmanuel Sanders honors Demaryius Thomas at Denver Boys & Girls Club

It continued prior to the 2012 NFL Draft when Wilson, fresh out of Wisconsin, took a top 30 visit to Broncos’ headquarters and whom would he run into but Peyton Manning, who after 13 years with the Indianapolis Colts was beginning his second career chapter with the  Broncos.

"Yeah, I don’t know if I was supposed to be in the building then," Manning said with a wry smile Wednesday evening from back stage at the Colorado Sports Hall of Fame banquet. "Hopefully, you can’t get in trouble 10 years after the fact. But yes I was in there, watching some film on my own, and Russell did pop in."

Credit: AP
Seattle Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson (3) shakes hands with Denver Broncos quarterback Peyton Manning, left, after the Seahawks beat the Broncos 40-10 in preseason NFL football game in Seattle. (AP Photo/John Froschauer, File)

As Wilson was ready to leave Seattle, where he starred for 10 seasons, and begin a second career chapter with Broncos, he often called Manning for counsel. After his record-setting four-year term with the Broncos, Peyton and his wife Ashley stayed in the Denver area to raise their twin children.

"Ashley and I have tried to help him and his wife trying to get acclimated the best we can," Manning said. "They’ve kind of reached out to us and obviously excited to have him here in Denver."

Like the Mannings, Peyton and Ashley, the Wilsons, Russell and Ciara, are very involved in charity and community work. Manning was a 2018 inductee into the Colorado Sports Hall of Fame and he returned Wednesday to announce the 18 to 88 scholarship in honor of his former teammate Demaryius Thomas. Manning and Ashley through their PeyBack Foundation set up a scholarship in D.T.’s honor for incoming Georgia Tech freshman from Thomas’ hometown of Laurens Country.

"But I wanted to do something for him in Denver where he made his mark as an NFL player and had such a big impact on this community," Manning said.

With help from Tom Lawrence, president and CEO of the Colorado Sports Hall of Fame, and Dave Logan, the Broncos’ play-by-play announcer, emcee of the annual banquet and inductee, Manning set up a $10,000 scholarship that will go to a Colorado high school football player who has overcome adversity.

"Trying to keep Demaryius legacy alive but also paying it forward which is what he was all about," Manning said.

Credit: AP
Denver Broncos quarterback Peyton Manning (18) and Demaryius Thomas (88) celebrates a touchdown during an NFL football game between the Denver Broncos and the Kansas City Chiefs, Sunday, Sept. 14, 2014, in Denver. (AP Photo/Jack Dempsey)

RELATED: Linebacker Josey Jewell ready to lead Broncos defense with new perspective

During his second chapter stint with the Broncos, Manning led his new team to regular-season records of 13-3, 13-3, 12-4 and 12-4. He set all the single-season passing records in 2013 that still stand and led the Broncos to two Super Bowl appearances, winning 50 in his final season.

All that from a guy who started 2-3 in his first season with the Broncos and were down 24-0 at halftime of game 6. Manning believes Wilson will find it easier to adjust to the Broncos than he did.

"I do think it’s an advantage for Russell to be coming in with a new coaching staff because everybody’s learning and Russell’s going to know this offense better than anybody so he’s going to be in the teaching mode as well," Manning said. "If you’re a new player and you’re catching up to everybody else in a leadership position that can be difficult. So I think Russell’s at a real advantage that they’re learning coach Hackett’s offense together. Figuring out what works, what doesn’t work and I think he’s going to be great for our young receivers and like all Broncos fans excited to get to see him work this fall."

RELATED: Klis' Mike Drop podcast: Talking NFL draft with GM George Paton, coach Nathaniel Hackett and top pick Nik Bonitto

And like Manning did with his receivers Thomas, Eric Decker, Brandon Stokley and then Wes Welker, Wilson took his receivers away from Colorado to work on passing routes of his own. Except while Manning had to call in a favor from his old college coach to borrow the Duke facilities, Wilson has his own state-of-the-art workout facility near San Diego.

"It’s quite the set up," Manning said. "I would imagine San Diego is a little more exciting than Durham in April, although we did throw in some Duke-North Carolina basketball games during the day so that was neat.

"But wherever you go, I like the off-campus throwing. There is something about – Russell can lead it. It’s just him and the receivers. Coaches aren’t around. There’s some real ownership there from all the players. And going out to San Diego, sounds like it’s a heckuva facility. I talked to Russell, he actually sent me the film of the throwing that they did and I could tell they got real good work in and that’s why I think they’re off to a really good start."

Wilson sent Manning film of his off-campus practice session? And Manning watched it? Uncommon dedication is what these two quarterback greats have in common.

> Video below: Catching up with Darnell McDonald at the Colorado Sports Hall of Fame

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