When Solomon Manning early enrolled at Rutgers out of nearby Colonia (N.J.) High last January, he did so with an intent to make an immediate impact. When practice started, the staff had different plans.
Manning eventually red-shirted but it served as a learning process in his long-term development.
“It’s more than just going out there and being crazy, trying to make plays, trying to be a good teammate,” Manning said. “You have to know your plays, fight through injuries, all different types of stuff like that. I was disappointed when they red-shirted me, but I actually understand why now. It was good for me.”
Manning entered as a linebacker, but recently switched to defensive end. Midway through the spring, he sees time with the second-team defense.
“It’s been great,” Manning said. “Kemoko (Turay) and Elorm (Lumor) have been great, great help to me, honestly. Anytime I have a question, they’re willing to help me out. They’re great teammates, and it’s just an awesome thing for me to change and for them to help me out this much.”
A natural competitor and team player, Manning said he embraces the slide to defensive end.
“I embrace any move,” he said. “I’m a Rutgers guy since high school. I always wanted to come to Rutgers since high school, so wherever they need help, I can help them.”
Defensive line coach Shane Burnham said the 6-foot-1, 240-pound Manning provides an athletic and speedy option for Rutgers at a thin position.
“We’re trying to become more athletic,” Burnham said. “… That was the goal with (Lumor and Manning). We need more speed off the edge, and they allow us to get something better out there.”
Whether it comes as a part of the rotation on the defensive line or on special teams, Manning wants to aid the team in any way possible.
“Just to be an impact on the game, be able to help the team in some way,” he said. “It doesn’t matter if it’s on defense, special teams, punt block, kickoff. Anywhere where I can help, that’s all I want.”