February 4, 2011

Hokies strike big with No. 2 pledge

It's an amazing start to the 2012 recruiting class for Virginia Tech. In less than 24 hours after National Signing Day the Hokies have jumpstarted the class with two commitments, the second also coming from a major recruit out-of-state. Find out more inside.

"He committed last night," former head coach Marlon Williams said of cornerback Donaldven Manning out of Miami (Fla.) Central. "I mean, Virginia Tech is the place he's been following since early in his high school career. Since he was a freshman or sophomore he's been following all of their corners, he's always been a fan of the corners coming out of Virginia Tech, Macho Harris, Brandon Flowers, all the guys that left there. He's actually gone out of his way to contact one of their players Rashad Carmichael.

"He wants to follow that tradition. He likes the tradition, the tradition is big for him, he liked it a lot. I wouldn't say it was just one thing, it's a thing that he's been following Virginia Tech for quite some time."

Manning of course held offers from numerous other colleges including the likes of Alabama, Florida, Miami, North Carolina and more.

"He was getting interest from everyone across the nation, the SEC, the ACC and the Pac-10," he said. "He felt comfortable with Coach Gray and that was a big impact for his decision to see his coaching style and help him polish his game, that was a big selling point in getting him in there."

Manning brings a lot to the field according to Williams.

"He's a physical corner, his biggest asset is his speed and knowledge of the game," he said. "I think Coach Gray was surprised by some of the things he saw.

"They're getting like I said a very competitive and very smart player on the field. He's kind of like a coach on the field. Off the field he pushes his teammates in and out of the classroom. He's doing all morally correct things, he'll be able to step in right away and absorb all the concepts of the defense. In fact, one big thing is that he's trying to get all his classes together to get there in January. He's trying to crunch it all in."

Williams went even further.

"I've been around football and he is the best corner, raw talent I've seen coaching," he said. "He's the best pure corner, his hips are so fluid and he's so natural to the game. That's the biggest thing his knowledge of the game it far surpasses a high school kid. He knows all the coverages and he likes to study the game. He's like a coach out there. He's the best corner I've seen in my entire football career, playing and coaching."

Where does Manning still need work?

"I think maybe it is just getting in that weight room, he's only about 160, but he'll throw that whole thing at you," he said. "We're trying to get him up to the 170's even. He still comes up in run support. If he gets up to the 170's I feel sorry for people, I don't think that'll be a problem."

Manning just recently transferred from Miami Edison, Williams old school to Miami Central one of the nation's top high school programs.

"I coached him since he was a freshman, he transferred about two weeks ago," he said. "Out there at Central he's doing really well, he loves it out there and has nothing but great things to say."

Obviously Manning is a great athlete, but Williams said just as much about him as a person.

"Overall he's a great kid, a very good kid and very coachable," he said. "He's definitely a people person, a guy that likes to rally the troops a bit. He'll never leave a guy behind; he's a teammate you want on your team.

"He's one of those guys with great character and I wouldn't vouch for anybody without it. I told him when he was young; before they look at your film they look at your character, especially coming from down south in Miami. He's got the character to thrive on and off the field."

Not just an elite football player, Manning was a state qualifier this past season in track in the 400 meter.

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