Donaldven Manning’s status with team up in air; freshman cornerback to meet with Beamer on Wednesday
Rumors began Tuesday afternoon that the true freshman had left the program. Assistant coaches who were available for interviews Tuesday night would only say what the school confirmed earlier — that Manning will meet with Beamer.
A 5-foot-9, 155-pound true freshman from Miami, Fla, Manning was a four-star recruit who enrolled last January to get a jump on playing time this year. Although he showed promise in the spring, he’s been slow to catch on to Bud Foster‘s defense this fall and has played sparingly.
His most lasting image this year might have been the Cincinnati game, when he replaced an injured Kyle Fuller in the third quarter and was beaten on consecutive plays for 57 yards, the second going 29 yards and a touchdown by Kenbrell Thompkins.
Manning played in seven games and registered four tackles this year, with one interception.
Online court records show that he was arrested in May and charged with possession of marijuana, although the charge was later dropped. The case was finalized in July, when he was found guilty of misidentifying himself to a police officer, a misdemeanor. He was given a 60-day suspended sentence and received one year of probation.
With Manning not at practice, sophomore walk-on Carl Jackson got second-team reps. Starter Kyle Fuller has been banged up and hasn’t practiced the first two days this week, meaning a larger role for freshman Donovan Riley, who notched his first career interception against Florida State last week.
“I’m going to pray that we can stay healthy, but those guys have got to be able to go if you need it,” defensive backs coach Torrian Gray said.
Here are some more notes and quotes from Tuesday’s post-practice availability …
- A late addition to the notes: Beamer’s website updated the depth chart late Tuesday, putting Corey Fuller and Demitri Knowles in the starting receiver spots over seniors Marcus Davis and Dyrell Roberts. “It’s a production driven business, so, you better produce,” wide receivers coach Kevin Sherman told the site. “You just turn the film on. It’s no secret. … Nobody gets blindsided around here.” Davis’ lack of blocking has been in the news this week.
- Foster said there’s been one common thread in the team’s two-minute problems on defense this year: “Busted coverage. That’s it.” The game-winning touchdown by the Seminoles came on a play when Virginia Tech was supposed to be in man coverage. From the looks of the replay, Fuller turned his receiver loose to the inside when he wasn’t supposed to (9:06 on the video). “We’ve got to execute and we’ve got to finish, man,” Gray said. “It’s frustrating from the standpoint that you play Florida State all game and you’ve got two great, end of the half drives that we can’t execute in those situations. So we’ve just got to look at us in the face and say, ‘Hey, we’ve got to man up and execute and just really perform in those situations.’”
- Foster continued to be aggressive, blitzing and playing man coverage near the end because he knew how good FSU kicker Dustin Hopkins was (he made 52- and 45-yard field goals earlier in the game). Freshman safety Desmond Frye, who was in the game for the injured Michael Cole, was the one free man on the play but couldn’t close quick enough to take down Rashad Greene, who caught the ball across the middle and out-raced the entire Hokies defense to the end zone. Frye, who got in for six plays, had repped that defense in practice during the week. “[FSU] made a good throw and catch,” Foster said. “He was in position. But I think the [Frye has] got great upside. I’m excited about his future, and his reps and him practicing with us this fall is only going to make him better for next fall.”
- Foster said he went with Alonzo Tweedy at whip linebacker last week because of what he brings to all the different blitz packages the Hokies were planning. “And I just felt better about his ability to do that more than Ronny [Vandyke's],” he said. “Ronny is a little more robotic right now, where Tweedy is a little more fluid from that standpoint.” Foster thinks Tweedy can continue to be a factor going forward. The senior was working with the first team near the end of practice Tuesday (although Vandyke was listed ahead of Tweedy on the depth chart on Beamer’s website). “I’m pulling for the guy,” Foster said. “I always have. And so I’m hoping he can be an impact for us the next couple ballgames.”
- Did Tech consider putting Tweedy in earlier this season? “Yeah, we have, but there are a lot of factors that go into it than just ability,” Foster said. “And those are some things that maybe some of the mental part of the game for our package sometimes has held him back. But at the same time, we found some things that he can do in his role and he has done them very well for us.”
- Cornerback Antone Exum has taken his fair share of criticism this year for his play, particularly for the pass interference calls, but teammates and coaches continue to say he’s had a strong year. “If you look at film, he’s in man coverage against the best receiver every game with no safety help,” defensive end James Gayle said. “So [his critics] obviously don’t know what they’re talking about. I guess they take the pass interferences to heart.”
- The prospect of going 6-6 isn’t very appealing to many fans, but the Hokies take the bowl streak to heart. Get to six wins and Virginia Tech will be in a bowl — albeit a third-tier one — for the 20th straight year. “Everyone wants to go to a bowl game,” Gayle said. “That’s the dessert of the season. It’s fun. We definitely have to beat Boston College. Just worry about them first.”
- If Virginia Tech makes a bowl, it’ll probably be one low on the totem pole. “As long as we don’t end up in Alaska, we’ll be fine,” Gayle said.