By Jared Fields, Sports Editor
If NFL scouts didn’t know who Danieal Manning was after the East-West Shrine Game last month, they’ll have another chance to see what he can do later this month at the NFL Combine in Indianapolis. The combine gives NFL personnel the chance to evaluate player’s athletic ability and character.
“That’s the biggest thing besides the draft,” Manning said about the combine. “If they missed me at the East West game, then the combine is nationwide, and more people can see me.”
Manning said while the game helped him gain recognition from scouts, the practice during the week was most important. Scouts do not have official 40-yard dash times or other physical test results for Manning, so a good performance at the combine could improve his NFL stock even more.
“They told me I did well in practice,” Manning said. “They don’t know where they want to put me; I just want to be able to play any position.”
At ACU, Manning played free safety, but in the Shrine Game he played cornerback, where he stayed for most of the game.
A defensive back and kick return specialist while at ACU, Manning has opted to skip his senior year of college and enter the NFL draft.
Performing against top players from the Division I level in the Shrine Game sparked interest among NFL scouts.
Manning has hired Russell Hicks, director of operations for the Houston-based Coast 2 Coast Sports Management agency, as his agent.
“A lot of scouts projected him as a 4th round pick before the Shrine game but maybe bumped him to a 3rd round pick after the game,” Hicks said.
Manning knew Hicks before declaring for the draft in January. Hicks said he helps his clients in more ways than just dealing with football.
“I wanted to talk about life on and off the field,” Hicks said. “I don’t concentrate on football but on life issues.”
Those include everything from setting up life insurance policies and taking care of money, to getting an education.
“He takes my mind off of the headache of meeting with everybody and things after football, like getting a degree,” Manning said. “I hope to have that before I finish playing.”
Since declaring for the draft, Manning has been busy with issues inside and outside of football. Three days a week Manning works out with a trainer and runs and works with a defensive back coach at least two days a week.
On Saturday, ESPN draft analyst Mel Kiper Jr. interviewed Manning. Kiper, along with many other draft analyst, have projected Manning to be drafted on the first day of the draft.
“He said I could go anywhere from a high 2nd round to 3rd round pick,” Manning said. “He doesn’t expect me to go on the second day, but if I do he’d be surprised.”