Nixa football

Nixa quarterback Reid Potts makes a pitch while being pressured by a Thayer defender at the Southside Team Camp on Thursday.

Reid Potts was naturally a bit star-struck initially while learning from the likes of Peyton and Eli Manning. But the NFL greats and other high-profile players Potts met easily calmed his nerves to allow him to soak in their knowledge.

Potts’ preparation this summer for his first season as Nixa’s starting quarterback included attending the Manning Passing Academy in Thibodaux, La., the Football University (FBU) Top Gun Showcase in Rock Hill, South Carolina and the FBU Texas Showdown in Hutto, Texas, as well as camps hosted by Iowa State and Kansas State.

He has been to the Manning Passing Academy three straight years.

“I’ve been blessed,” Potts said. “This year was the most camps I’ve been to. It’s been a great learning experience.”

The Mannings don't simply loan their name to add prestige to their camp. They’ve been active participants for the 25 years they’ve hosted the camp, as Potts can attest.

“I’ve talked to Peyton and Eli multiple times (and their older brother) Cooper is always there, too,” Potts said. “I came in thinking they are such big names. But they are humble. They act like they’re not the big names or Hall of Famers that they are. They act like regular people.”

Potts has played 7-on-7 with Cooper’s son, Arch Manning, already an acclaimed prospect as a freshman prep quarterback at Isidore Newman in New Orleans.

The Manning and FBU camps annually attract elite high school talent. One player in particular who made a favorable impression on Potts was J.J. McCarthy, of La Grange Park, Illinois.

“I was in a group with him. He’s a five-star quarterback who has committed to Michigan,” Potts said. “You can probably name any D-I school and he has an offer from them. He’s a stud. We talked quite a bit. He’s a pretty cool guy.”

Clemson quarterback Trevor Lawrence, fresh from leading the Tigers to a national title as a freshman last season, worked the Manning camp as a camp counselor.

“Tuo (Tagovailoa) was supposed to be there, but wasn’t,” Potts said of the Alabama quarterback. “That disappointed me because I’m a big Alabama fan.”

Potts’ biggest takeaway from the camps in regard to his own play is the improvement he feels he’s made with his footwork.

“We went back to the fundamentals,” he said. “I learned a lot about timing with my steps and throws and quickening up my steps. My confidence has been boosted a ton compared to last year by being around the best players and coaches in the nation.”

Nixa coach Rich Rehagen liked what he saw from Potts during 7-on-7 sessions and team camp.

“He’s done a lot of extra work for improvement,” Rehagen said. “He’s had a good summer.”

Potts, a junior, made a splash as a sophomore last season by coming off the bench to throw three first-half touchdown passes in Nixa’s Class 5 District 6 semifinal loss to Parkview. His stat line for the season included 23-of-36 passing for 324 yards with four touchdowns and three interceptions. 

The 6-foot-2, 165-pound Potts plans to play in college and has set up a Next College Student Athlete account. His profile shows he has posted a time of 4.6 in the 40-yard dash, a 275-pound squat, a 28-inch vertical and a 107-inch broad jump.

“I’m trying to get looked at,” he said. “We’re going to be playing some good talent this year, so hopefully that brings some (college) coaches and I can show out.”

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