After coming out of Fairfax (Calif.) with no offers, and precious little attention from college football programs even, 6-foot-2, 286-pound Marcus Manley is a California Golden Bear.
It took him a month from first interest to his official visit, and less than 24 hours in Berkeley before he committed to Barry Sacks and the rest of the Cal staff, but his journey to that moment took much longer.
"The facilities were amazing, the weight room was I think probably about the biggest and most impressive I've ever seen," said Manley. "The stadium, everything, and academically, it's one of the best schools in the world. I'm just really excited to start the season."
Of course, he has one more semester left at Santa Monica City College before he can get down to business. Manley's recruitment has taken several twists and turns, but he's finally where he belongs.
"I was in talks here and there with San Diego for a little bit. Just a couple schools came to visit me. I just really didn't get any offers," Manley said of his recruitment out of high school. "It was more just that I could come by and visit, kind of thing."
Towards the end of December, Manley was finally contacted by former Bears running backs coach and assistant head coach Ron Gould.
"He first contacted me at Santa Monica one day, and I was in the weight room. He was interested in me, and we were talking, and then he moved to UC Davis," Manley said. "He was talking to me, and after he had left, I hadn't really heard from anybody, so he was trying to get me to come up to UC Davis, but something happened and they couldn't get me in."
Shortly after Gould left Cal, Manley was contacted once more by the new staff, including defensive line coach Sacks.
"That's when, a few weeks after, I was contacted by coach Barry Sacks, and he wanted to meet with me and talk with me, so we set up a meeting at Santa Monica City College one day, and him and coach [Andy] Buh came up to see me. [Sacks] walked in, super excited, and he was talking to me and he said, academically, what I had to do to be able to get in to Cal, and he set certain benchmarks for me to get my weight up, lift weights, do this and that, so I could be ready."
And, just like that, Manley was off on his official visit, which concluded on Sunday.
"It started off pretty much, the whole surroundings, it was just so beautiful," Manley gushed. "The neighborhoods just looked so beautiful, and as soon as we got to the campus, the campus was humongous. Everything just looked so nice, and then, the coaching staff, everyone was just really friendly. Everyone was genuine. Everyone was just nice and talking to me and figuring out who I was, as well as telling me about themselves."
After his initial impressions of the school and the program, Manley committed on Saturday afternoon.
"For me to have an opportunity like this is just mind-blowing," Manley said. "Coming from high school, getting no offers, just talking to schools, nobody wants to go from ‘Oh, man, I might get picked up by a school,' and just get nothing in the end. I just said, ‘OK, since this didn't work out, I'm just going to go to a JC, I'm going to work as hard as I can.' I'm just happy that I got this opportunity, because it's simply amazing."
BTC: Marcus Manley
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