Summer Key for Manningham

Michigan junior wide receiver Mario Manningham emerged on the national scene with a breakout performance worthy of All-Big 10 honors in 2006. Despite missing multiple games over the course of the season, Manningham imposed his will on the defense of each team he faced. What does Manningham see in his future for 2007? How good can the offense be in 2007?

ANN ARBOR, Mich. -- With nine touchdowns in 2006, and six more in 2005, the name Mario Manningham strikes fear in defensive coaches across the Big 10. At 6-foot, 181-pounds, Manningham's rare combination of speed and elusiveness helped him walk into the national spotlight against the Notre Dame Fighting Irish in South Bend, Ind., last September.

Manningham's four catches, good for 137 yards and three touchdowns, seemed to catapult the confidence of the Warren, Ohio, native as he erupted for over 300 yards and five touchdowns over the next three weeks of the season.

Just as Manningham appeared ready to become the Wolverines most dominant big play threat at wide receiver since Braylon Edwards, however, the injury bug bit. After breaking through with nine touchdowns over the first six games of the season, Mannigham was forced to the sideline for the Wolverines next three contests.

The Wolverines talented pass-catcher returned for the final four games of the season, but the 6-foot blazer was unable to find the endzone as his nagging injuries carried over and into the off season.

"Early in the summer he was still having some issues," Michigan coach Lloyd Carr said on his star receiver at the Big 10 media luncheon, "but I think his conditioning has really come along. He did some things late in the summer that our players… he can make everybody stop and say ‘Wow!' Those are the reports I get."

Once back to full strength, summer became a pivotal time in Manningham's continuing development. Perhaps out of sync with U-M quarterback Chad Henne following his injury, Mannigham and Henne, along with the rest of the wide receiving core, made sure to work out the kinks in what could be the nations best offense in 2007.

"That's what the off season is for. We work hard and take advantage of our 7-on-7 time. Me and Chad will be out here with Adrian and Greg Mathews running routes. We're just trying to win. We've got a lot to prove.

"It'd be raining and we'd be out here doing what we've got to do. If it as coming down too much, we'd go to the indoor and burn it up in there," Manningham continued.

Summer hasn't been just about team improvements for Manningham, however. As the Wolverines top big play threat moving into the 2007 season, Manningham has also used the summer to improve both his mechanics and fundamentals.

"I just want to get better. I don't want to drop the ball. I can't drop the ball in the fourth quarter. Coach Carr told me, ‘fourth quarter? Nuh-uh.' You can't drop the ball, especially not in the fourth.

"We can be good if we execute right. If we do what we got to do and come out and play hard, we could be real lethal right now. We've got Mike back now, that's a big piece of our offense."

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