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Grant Traylor: Former Va. Tech DB joins the Herd

Sep. 04, 2013 @ 12:19 AM

HUNTINGTON -- The future of Marshall's secondary got a bit stronger on Tuesday afternoon.

Marshall coach Doc Holliday announced former Virginia Tech cornerback Donaldven Manning has joined the Thundering Herd program.

"We're extremely excited for Donaldven to join our program," Holliday said. "He will be a tremendous asset to our secondary and I know that (Marshall defensive coordinator) Coach (Chuck) Heater is excited to start working with him."

Manning's addition is a massive get for the Herd's secondary.

The 5-10, 181-pound Manning entered the 2013 season listed as a starter while Virginia Tech star corner Antone Exum recovered from a knee injury.

In eight games with Virginia Tech during the 2012 season, Manning registered four tackles and an interception, which came against Austin Peay.

However, true freshman Brandon Facyson gained additional repetitions as the beginning of fall camp wore on and Manning decided on Aug. 11 to transfer from Virginia Tech.

On Tuesday, his destination became Huntington.

The addition of Manning makes sense for the Herd, considering Manning is from Miami Central -- the same high school as Marshall quarterback Rakeem Cato and wide receiver Tommy Shuler.

The trio did not play together, though, at Central.

Even though all three graduated from Central, their moments on the field came as opponents when Manning and fellow Marshall secondary member Corie Wilson played for Edison in a 29-27 win over Cato and Shuler, who were at Miami Springs at the time.

"It was a fun game," Wilson said. "We ended up beating them by two points. It's a great experience when you can play against guys in high school and then play with them in college. I feel like it will be a good experience to get back where we used to be -- helping each other out and making plays."

Shuler also remembered playing against Manning, who was just a sophomore at the time.

"I remember he was smaller, only like 130 pounds," Shuler said. "He was a good player, though. He'll give us good work out here."

Shuler added that the Miami pipeline and the success of those players here likely factored into the decision. Manning makes the 34th Floridian on the Marshall roster.

"It makes it more comfortable," Shuler said. "You've got guys here from home and you know what football means to them. You don't have to worry about him going extra hard because those guys are going to go harder than you and push you."

Coming out of high school in the Class of 2012, Manning was the 11th-ranked cornerback and No. 140 overall prospect in the nation.

The four-star cornerback signed with Virginia Tech over offers from 2011 national champion Alabama, 2011 runner-up LSU and many other top-tier BCS schools, including Florida, Florida State, Miami (Fla.), Louisville, Notre Dame, Wisconsin and West Virginia.

Marshall also offered Manning out of high school.

Manning will have to sit out the 2013 season, but because he played as a true freshman, he will use this as his redshirt year and have cthree years to play at Marshall.

RUNNIN' START: In Saturday's 28-21 win over Furman, Gardner-Webb achieved something that hadn't been done in a while -- win the opener over a scholarship FCS team.

The last time the Runnin' Bulldogs won over a scholarship FCS team in the season-opener was 2002 when Gardner-Webb tripped up Morgan State 28-24.

ODD STATISTIC: In the Herd's hypertempo offensive scheme that debuted in 2012, it has been rare for Cato to throw for under 300 yards in a game.

Cato's 253-yard performance was the second-lowest yardage total for him in the last 13 games, dating back to the 2012 opener.

The only other performance in which he threw for less yardage was the Herd's 38-31 loss to UAB in which he ended the day with only 216 yards passing.

Grant Traylor covers Marshall football for The Herald-Dispatch. He can be reached by E-mail at gtraylor@herald-dispatch.com or by phone at (304) 526-2860. Follow him on Twitter (@GrantTraylor).

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