College quarterback guru David Cutcliffe had mixed feelings when the Giants benched one of his mentees, Eli Manning, for another of his proteges, Daniel Jones.
On Sunday, the Duke head coach could feel only joy.
“No words describe how great a man and teammate Eli Manning is! I’m very happy for Daniel,” Cutcliffe tweeted after Jones, in his first career start, led the Giants to an incredible 32-31 comeback win over the Buccaneers. “I’m amazingly proud of WHO both of these men are! Eli you’re the complete definition of “CLASS.”
It was Cutliffe who coached both Jones (at Duke) and Manning (at Mississippi) in college, while also overseeing Eli’s older brother, Peyton Manning, at Tennessee.
Manning certainly was the definition of class even though he had lost the job he had held for 16 years, at first fist-bumping Jones after the sixth-overall pick scored his first touchdown — a 7-yard carry in the second quarter — before later embracing Jones, who carried the Giants back from a 18-point deficit at halftime.
Jones went 23-of-36 for 336 yards, two passing and two rushing touchdowns in the Giants first win of the season.
The news Tuesday that the 38-year-old Manning would be benched for the 22-year-old Jones hit Cutcliffe hard.
At first, he declined to comment on the matter before releasing a video statement.
“If this is the end, and I have no idea what’s next for Eli Manning, I hope he focuses on all the great things that he’s accomplished,” Cutcliffe said.
“Absolutely I’m excited for Daniel, praying that Daniel gets off to a great start. That’s important in your career. But I know he’s tough enough to take what comes. So he’ll be just fine.”
Jones was more than just fine.
This story was originally published by the New York Post.