Auburn, Ala.--When the Auburn Tigers hit the practice field on Tuesday for the first day of spring drills, there won’t be anyone more excited to be out there than freshmen Brodarious Hamm and Tashawn Manning.
Committed to Auburn and both signing with the Tigers in the 2016 class, they were expected to come in last fall and compete for playing time.
Before that could happen both had their first big battles to overcome, dealing with cancer.
Manning was the first to be diagnosed with Hamm’s coming just after signing day. For Manning it was a long and arduous grind that he recently overcame. Cleared to work out and now ready to get back on the field for spring practice, the defensive lineman said it wasn’t easy, but through it all his desire to get back on the field was too strong to back down.
“It was tough, of course, but it was nothing that I couldn’t handle,” Manning said. “I went through remission in July. I just got done beating that and not I’m ready to get started.
“I feel blessed,” he added. “I truly do. I feel like I have the opportunity to do something that I really wanted to do.”
Tashawn Manning is a defensive lineman.
For Hamm it was a shorter process, but nonetheless a very difficult one. Diagnosed soon after signing with Auburn, he was cleared in the summer and has been on campus since the fall. This spring is his first chance to put on the pads, something he said was a focus for him because that would mean he won the fight.
“I got diagnosed two weeks after signing day,” Hamm said. “I didn’t really know what to think about it. It was not expected. I was ready to come in and get to work and earn playing time, but God works in mysterious ways.
“I found out I was cancer free around January 3rd,” he added. “Treatment was tough, but I felt like I had to be strong for others around me rather than myself. I had a lot of people looking up to me and I wasn’t about to let cancer beat me.”
Saying he wants to thank his family, coaches, teammates at Spalding (Ga.) High, and in particular NFL standout Eric Berry for the positive motivation throughout his recovery, Hamm joins with his brother-in-arms in Manning in their words for what the Auburn family meant to both of them during this difficult time and now they’re ready to repay the favor on the field.
“The biggest support was the Auburn family of course,” Manning said. “The fan base, the coaches, the players, just my mom and dad and everybody around me was so supportive of everything I was going through. I just really want to thank the Auburn family, my family, my high school and everybody for all the support.”