The Hokies got a humongous start to the 2012 recruiting class with the addition of two corners, the second prospect being Miami (Fla.) Miami Central cornerback Donaldven Manning. Manning sat down with Hokiehaven.com to breakdown the decision for the Hokies inside.
"You know, I had already been planning it (decision) a couple weeks before," he said. "I called Coach Gray up and I talk to him every week, I've been talking to him since November. I told him, 'I'm really interested in their program and it was about that time I become a Hokie, I want to commit.'
"He was like, 'Yeah man everything is cool, we'd love for you to commit, we're excited about you.' Actually my mentor and I talked to him for a minute and I didn't actually make it official until this morning when I talked to Coach Beamer. He was very excited and I'm excited about him too.
"The first thing he asked me was, 'Is this what you really want to do, I don't want you to be pressured being part of the Virginia Tech program.' He told me how he sat down to watch my film and loved me as a player, he talked about how great I am and what things can happen for me with the style of play I have, I have a very bright future maybe possibly an NFL product. He was very happy to have me."
Torrian Gray provided to be pivotal in Manning's decision.
"To start off, a lot of people have a lot of interest in a school because of the history, I like the history at Virginia Tech," he said. "The main thing even before the offer for me was Coach Gray, he was in contact for a long time. Coach Gray is everything you want in a coach, he's hard on you and wants you to produce. The first thing he told me when I called him was not who all offered, but he got straight to the point. He said he likes me and I'm a great defensive back and then told me how to make me better, he talked about hand placement and everything I wanted to hear. That made me take even more of an interest in him. A lot of scouts didn't approach me the way Coach Gray did.
"Coach Gray is a really composed guy. The thing about him is that he coaches very hard; he's a hardnosed type of dude. A lot doesn't slip by with him. Me, being with the Miami swagger, Miami kids have things they struggle to go through, I need somebody who is going to stay on top of me and push me to be a better person and Coach Gray showed me all those things."
It was more than just his relationship with Gray though.
"Virginia Tech produces NFL produce defensive backs, they are great at it," he said. "They are always ranked in the top 20 and the school overall, I like playing Beamerball, the colors and tradition, it's everything about it."
To date, Manning has yet to visit Blacksburg, but a trip is planned this spring.
"I'm trying to go up for the spring game," he said. "My coach is working on the visit it may be sometime in May.
"I already saw them. I found out where they were practicing for the bowl and you know since I'm a big fan of Virginia Tech I decided to check it out. I really got to see Coach Gray coach first hand."
Manning has clearly pursued his interest to Tech in many ways, not just watching practice but also contacting one of the current players.
"I actually went out of my way to talk to Rashad Carmichael," he said. "I've called him a few times and now I already feel like part of the family."
As has already been mentioned, Manning plans to graduate early in January.
"I have a very slim frame and I recognize that," he said. "My plan is to finish up early in January and possibly add weight in the spring as well as get a hold of all the plays. My plan is to step in right away.
"With my talent, Coach Gray agreed it's possible."
Manning maintains he's firm with his decision for the Hokies and barring some unforeseen circumstances plans to be there next year.
"I have a mindset of where I want to go, but anything is possible, if Coach Beamer resigns or Coach Gray is gone.
"I plan on being one of their (Virginia Tech's) recruiters. Anything I see I'll go after it."
So, what stands out about the star corner?
"Basically what stands out about me is my awareness in everything I do," he said. "Coming out of my backpedal, I waste no movement. I actually have great technique and Coach Williams, being a former UCF defensive back graduate, he taught me everything he learned and I got it down pat.
"I feel like that helps me stand out more than anything. Anybody can have athleticism, but not a lot know the game."
A commitment isn't the only big news for Manning as he recently transferred to Miami Central. He briefly touched on that.
"A lot of the coaches at Miami Central coached me when I was younger," he said. "My recruiting process was going well, the only thing missing is the chance to compete for a state championship. The Rockets are the best place on the national level."
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