Sort of like Lou Gehrig stepping in for Wally Pipp at first base for the Yankees, Shaquan Manning took over at cornerback as a sophomore when an older William Fleming teammate was injured. He never left. Three years later, Manning is on his way to Hampton University on a full ride scholarship, where he expects to play cornerback again. Manning was also a wide receiver for Fleming, which went 9-2 in his senior year.
It was on defense, however, that Manning (also starting point guard on the Colonel’s basketball team, which won a state title in 2007) made his mark with 23 career interceptions.
“I just have a nose for the ball … right place at the right time,” said Manning on his letter of intent signing day in the Fleming library. The opportunity to play at the next level is appreciated: “I’ll give it my all.”
Defensive coordinator Don Holter said Manning had overcome personal obstacles to excel on the athletic field and elsewhere. He was also “a very coachable young man … and plays big.” Holter can envision him as a linebacker somewhere down the road and said Manning was “a great run supporter,” in addition to his pass defense skills. “He has a knack for what he does,” said Holter, who appreciates Manning’s off-the-field character. “He wants to be coached – he wants to be good.”
“I put a lot of work into it,” said Manning, who is grateful that several of his basketball and football teammates have also found homes at the next level. “Hopefully we can do great things in college.”
Two younger brothers are in the Fleming pipeline, so Manning has a good excuse to come back and check out the new football stadium, scheduled to open in 2010. His father (Thomas Taylor) helped push Shaquan along, and now said his son, “it’s paying off.”