Jeffrey Manning lay on the sideline, getting stretched as he prepped for the second half of Los Angeles (Calif.) Cathedral’s non-conference matchup with Lynwood (Calif.)
Teammate and USC four-star defensive end/outside linebacker commit Hunter Echols rushed over, excitedly pointing out that USC defensive backs coach Ronnie Bradford was on the sideline in attendance. Bradford had taken the second shift after outside linebackers coach Johnny Nansen was on the sideline in the first half to check out Echols.
“Honestly, I'm just thankful,” Manning said of having coaches see him in person. “Thankful to know that college coaches they believe in my skill set and could see me playing in their program.
Friday night was Manning’s first game of the season after transferring from Bellflower (Calif.). It was also an opportunity for Manning to showcase his skill set. The 6-foot-1, 190-pound three-star defensive back and once-UCLA commit is still hoping for a scholarship offer from Bradford and the Trojans.
Bradford got a chance to see Manning show his ability to quickly diagnose plays and a willingness to come up and make plays behind the line of scrimmage. With Echols coming off the edge, Lynwood continuously tried to get the ball out quickly, including a number of short screens on the outside. Manning flushed those out with regularity and wasn’t afraid to deliver a couple of big blows.
He said he talks to Bradford on a weekly basis. If Manning was offered, following a similar path as Echols, who was originally a UCLA commit, but de-committed to choose the Trojans, is a definite possibility.
“I love the program. Coach Bradford and [Clay] Helton are pretty good people. And if I see myself fitting at USC with Hunter, I could see that being the move.”
But Manning isn’t just waiting by the phone for the Trojans. He left Saturday morning to head to Salt Lake City for an official visit to Utah. He also has officials set up later in the year for Oregon State and Washington State.
Despite just joining recently, Manning has quickly ingratiated himself with the Phantom program.
“It's been straight. Pretty much all the coaches and the team, they're all welcoming. If anything they were happy to have me in the program. I felt part of the family instantly.”
Manning thinks what makes him stand out is his work ethic.
“Some people like to take plays off. I think I work the hardest out of everybody.”
That’s the main thing he said has been reinforced since joining Cathedral.
“They teach me you can't take any plays off and you have to work hard. Even if it is practice, you have to work hard every snap, whistle to whistle. Honestly, I'm just thankful for that.”
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