Apopka, Fla.--Auburn’s close win over Jacksonville State last weekend was tougher than most anticipated, but it didn’t keep 2016 defensive line commitment Tashawn Manning from enjoying his first trip to Jordan-Hare Stadium.
A 6-4, 270 prospect from Wekiva High School, Manning made the trip with his father and former Marshall player to check out the Tigers and see what the fuss was all about. Now that he’s seen it in person Manning said he can’t wait to do it again.
“The experience was awesome,” Manning said. “Even though it wasn’t a big game the crowd was sold out. The players come out ready to play, playing it like it was a big game. It was pretty awesome.
“We did the Tiger Walk,” he added. “We were out there when Nova circled around the stadium for the War Eagle. Something I didn’t know was that every time the other team scores or kicks a field goal the crowd throws the ball out of the stadium, which I thought was hilarious.”
All those things made a huge impression on Manning on Saturday, but the biggest impact for him was just the entrance and what it meant to the fans in the stands.
“It was when I first walked out into the stadium,” Manning said. “I saw the football players coming out and the crowd was going crazy. I was like ‘oh my gosh, I can’t wait to get out here.’”
Expected to play either defensive end or tackle at Auburn, Manning has been forced to switch sides of the ball in his senior season in order to help out his team. Playing offense almost exclusively, he said he’s playing a handful of snaps on key defensive situations and has still managed to do some big things.
“Our offense was the weak part,” Manning said. “I start on offense and then I come in on big plays on defense. I have five sacks so far (three games) and only played eight plays the last two games.”
Solid in his decision to be a Tiger and planning to enroll early in January, Manning said his recruiting is done and he’s ready to see what his future holds on the Plains.
“It will be real exciting,” Manning said. “I’ll have a huge advantage being able to get in the weight program and get to knowing the plays early.
“I’m done,” he added of his recruiting. “I think Auburn will be my only visit. I wanted to visit for the Iron Bowl, but if we go to the playoffs that might not happen.”