Rodney Hudson didn’t recognize it at the time.

But preparing for a football game with EJ Manuel once was a fragmented process.

The Raiders center and quarterback shared a campus at Florida State from the 2008 to 2010 college football seasons. Manuel redshirted the first year. During the final two, he appeared intermittently with six combined starts.

There was little synergy between position groups.

“College is different,” Hudson said. “You’re so separated. The quarterback room, the lineman room is so separated. I didn’t realize that then, obviously, but looking back … we actually didn’t get together so much.”
From that sense, this is a new experience.

Hudson and Manuel are working closely this week to form the core of the Raiders’ offense Sunday against the Baltimore Ravens. Manuel is stepping in for Derek Carr, who suffered a transverse process fracture in his lower back Sunday against the Denver Broncos. The two former Seminoles can do better than pick up where they left off.

They were undergrads in football then.

Now, they have their Ph.D.s.

Manuel will play the role of professor Thursday, leading a players-only meeting at the Raiders’ facility. This is the sort of gathering that wouldn’t occur in college, but they are fairly common around the NFL. Inside this meeting room, Manuel will look to conduct himself like the leader he was still learning to become early at Florida State.

Here, he can engage in more high-level discussions regarding protections with his offensive linemen.