LANCASTER — Omar Manning is gracious. In every aspect of life.
Football is the fun part after being named to the Army All American team and receiving his jersey in a ceremony in the auditorium of Lancaster High School on Tuesday. Just the opportunity to honor his family, school, and his country means something to him.
“It’s just a great honor,” said Manning, one of the top wide receivers in the nation, and in Texas for 2017. “It’s been a dream of mine since I was younger. Hard work paying off. I’m headed in the right direction. It’s a great honor to represent my country and play with some great players too.”
It means something to Manning.
“They put their lives on the line for our country everyday,” Manning said. “So playing that game for them, they get to come and watch it, so it feels good to do that.”
After a slow start, his Lancaster Tigers have put it into gear after an opening-season loss. The Tigers are 4-1 (2-0 in district) with a road battle against Mansfield Summit on the docket.
“Coach Gilbert has been putting together a great game plan and my teammates have been executing,” Manning said.
As for recruiting, the 6-foot-3, 205-pounder keeps a lot close to the vest, including his personal Top 5. While most prospects are tweeting a weekly Top 10, Manning quietly goes about it in a more humble and modest way.
Four teams to watch are Texas, TCU, OU, and Texas A&M. And the Longhorns get mentioned first.
“They are still one of my top teams, of course,” Manning said. “Shane (Buechele) is doing great. The offense is doing great. They have one loss, but they’ll get it together. They are moving in the right direction.”
“I saw the Spring tape, and I saw how it was going to be,” Manning said. “When I saw the Notre Dame game, I was like ‘yeah, this is going to be a great system.’”
While most schools use one or two coaches in most prospects’ recruitments, Texas uses four.
Manning talks to OC Sterlin Gilbert, WR coaches, Charlie Williams and Jeff Traylor, as well as the big man, Strong. Williams stopped by Lancaster last week.
“My relationship with Coach Williams is great,” said Manning. “We talk about things on the field and off the field. He’s a great person.”
Strong is also involved, as well as Austin Westlake signal-caller and Texas QB commit Sam Ehlinger, who keeps close tabs on the 4-star from the Metroplex.
“I’ve talked to (Strong) a few times face-to-face,” Manning said. “I like the type of person he is and how he cares about more things than football — just life in general.”
Manning mentioned possible taking an official visit to TCU this weekend for the OU game, and maybe hitting Lubbock (with a teammate) for a Texas Tech game. I’ve also heard a Texas OV could happen later in the season.
A&M has re-entered the picture,” based on how they’ve played this year, they’re in there.” But I don’t know if they’re a real threat just yet.
At the end of the day, it still looks like a Texas-TCU battle. But for now, Manning is just grateful to be an Army All American and continue heading into the right direction.