Florida State QB EJ Manuel named MVP of 2013 Senior Bowl

Senior Bowl south squad quarterback E.J. Manuel of Florida State (3) against the Senior Bowl north squad during the second half of the Senior Bowl at Ladd-Peebles Stadium. The South squad defeated the North squad 21-16. (Derick E. Hingle-USA TODAY Sports)

The 2013 Senior Bowl provides outgoing college football players one of their last chances to show what they can do against elite competition. Should a graduating player dominate this game, that young man can potentially look forward to a higher selection in the upcoming 2013 NFL Draft.

The 2013 edition of the Senior Bowl was dominated by defense as the South took home the 21-16 victory, but one quarterback stood out from the pack.

That would be EJ Manuel of Florida State, who threw for one touchdown and rushed for another in leading the way for the South and taking home game MVP honors.

His performance was one thing, but his effort and his motivation transcends the sport. His mother was diagnosed with breast cancer prior to Manuel’s senior season at Tallahassee. He led the Seminoles to an ACC title and an Orange Bowl victory while playing with an immensely heavy heart.

He bookend-ed the month of January with a BCS and Senior Bowl win, and both were easily dedicated to his loving mom.

“That’s kind of been my motivation,” Manuel said. “I call my mom every single day and tell her I love her. I never miss a day.

“They’ll be sending that award home to her. I won that award for her. I went out there and played well for her. I’m happy I was able to do it.”

Manuel led the way on the South’s final two drives, hooking up with former Stanford running back Stepfan Taylor for a 6-yard, touchdown pass. Then, on the team’s next series, Manuel converted on a key fourth-down play on a drive that eventually finished with a scoring run from former Miami star Mike James for the go-ahead score.

All in all, it was a fantastic month for Manuel and his family. There is an NFL team out there that is going to make life even better for him come April’s draft.

It is just a matter of which organization, and how much Manuel’s clutch performance in this Senior Bowl improved the young man’s draft stock.

MORE NFL: Check out the definitive mock draft of the first round of the 2013 NFL Draft