Gray, Tradition Made The Difference With Manning

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Miami Central junior Donaldven Manning estimates that he began seriously watching college football around 2006 or 2007. Virginia Tech, by featuring top defensive backs and winning championships, quickly caught the Miami (FL) native’s attention. After getting to know defensive backs coach Torrian Gray, Manning’s mind was made up. He wanted to be a Hokie.

“I watched the great defensive backs coming through, like Macho Harris and Brandon Flowers,” Manning recalled. “I’ve watched Virginia Tech competing for championships. And then there is Coach Gray.

“Ever since I first started talking to Coach Gray, he didn’t ask who else was recruiting me. He just told me how he could make me better and what the Virginia Tech program can offer me. He is a down to earth guy. The majority of the others were more about the competition than socializing and interacting. I’m more comfortable with Coach Gray.”

Manning spoke with his mentor, Marlon Williams, and his mother, regarding an early commitment to Tech. The night after Signing Day 2011, he was ready to make the call to Coach Gray.

“It was one of the biggest moments of my life,” Manning said. “I don’t regret it at all.

“Coach Gray was kind of surprised. I kind of told him in advance, but I guess he thought I was pulling his chain. He was quite excited.”

Manning spurned offers from Alabama, Florida, Miami and North Carolina, among others, for Virginia Tech.

“The whole process is difficult because I received offers from Alabama and Florida, some top schools that catch a kid’s attention around the nation. But seeing all the things Virginia Tech and Coach Gray had to offer, I took it,” said Manning, who has never visited Blacksburg before. He will take a visit there this spring, though, and looks forward to meeting his future teammates.

Manning is currently taking online courses in addition to his load at Miami Central in hopes of being able to graduate in December and enroll at Tech next January. Having now made his college commitment, he can focus more on attaining this goal.

A top high school corner learning from one of the top corners in the NFL…

The 5-10, 160-pound Manning starred

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