Tashawn Manning (56) is shown at practice with Tyler Carter (93).
Auburn, Ala.-- Tashawn Manning's path to the Plains has been a little bumpier than the road traveled by most of his teammates.
Expected to play for the 2016 Auburn football Tigers, the signee out of Wekiva High in Apopka, Fla., was diagnosed with leukemia before his scheduled recruiting official visit to watch Auburn play Alabama in the 2015 Iron Bowl. After that his focus changed to treatment for his illness.
The defensive lineman, who is measuring in at six-foot-three and 315 pounds, was cleared to return to football prior to the start of spring practice, which began on Tuesday. His treatment over the past year that included radiation and chemotherapy is now behind him and he can focus on football.
Auburn’s defensive coordinator, Kevin Steele, said after Thursday evening’s practice he is enjoying Manning’s comeback and noted that the defensive tackle is excited to be back in action.
“That’s an amazing story itself, in fact,” Steele said of Manning’s return to football. “On Monday, Wednesday and Friday we do a little life lesson. (Wednesday's) lesson was on being focused and grateful for what you have.
“One of the questions we asked them was, ‘How many guys in here had a hard day today?’” Steele noted that some of the players, and even some of the coaches, raised their hands.
“We brought Manning out there and said. ‘How was your day yesterday?’ A smile came on his face and he said, ‘I had a blast coach,’ and told the story.
“There were some guys in the room that I am not sure had put two and two together and to be diagnosed with leukemia and cancer, have radiation treatment and maybe think you’ll never be able to play again...being back doing it is kind of a neat thing.
“I’m going to tell you, he’s got a skill set now,” Steele added. “He can help us. The good thing about it is he sure is happy to be out there.”
Manning, Steele and the rest of the Tigers will return to the field on Saturday morning for the third of their 15 spring practices.