ORLANDO, Fla., — For all the hype about Zach Evans and Darnell Washington, there’s another highly touted prospect set to make his decision this week, as 4-star cornerback Dontae Manning will also announce his college plans on Jan. 2.
And while Manning isn’t a 5-star player, he’s still one of the nation’s best. He rates at the No. 76 prospect per the 247Sports Composite rankings. He’s the No. 6 ranked cornerback, and one of the things working in Georgia’s favor is how they’ve been able to develop defensive backs.
While speaking to reporters at the Under Armour All-American Game media day, Manning noted multiple times how Georgia has produced back-to-back Jim Thorpe Award finalists. Deandre Baker took home the award in 2018 and J.R. Reed was a finalist in 2019.
Manning — who hails from Kansas City, Mo., — also noted the work Kirby Smart specifically has done with defensive backs. Manning also spoke highly of his relationships with defensive backs coach Charlton Warren and defensive coordinator Dan Lanning.
Lanning is also from Kansas City and Manning said he had a two-hour conversation about both football and life with the Georgia defensive coordinator on his visit to Athens. That was one of the highlights of the trip for Manning.
As for the Ducks, he did factor in the distance to Eugene, Ore., but added his equally comfortable with the direction of the program.
“You take distance out of it and you have great coaching. Great program,” Manning said. “Coach (Mario) Cristobal, he’s on to something real big. And I trust coach (Donté) Williams with my life, as I do coach Warren and coach Lanning.”
Georgia and Oregon are two of the five finalists for Manning, as he also named Oklahoma, Texas A&M and Arizona State. He was once an Oklahoma commit, but spent most of his time answering questions about Oregon and Georgia.
Oregon and Georgia are also seen as the top contenders for 5-star defensive back Kelee Ringo. Both Manning and Ringo project to the next level as cornerbacks. Ringo will announce his decision on Jan. 4. at the All-American Bowl in San Antonio, Texas.
Manning did take his last official visit to Georgia, which came right before the early signing period. It was his first visit to Georgia since a camp in his sophomore year.
But he felt the visit did answer any questions he might have had. He also got to reconnect with an old friend in Georgia 2020 signee Major Burns. He took an official visit to Georgia that same weekend.
Burns ended up committing to Georgia on Dec. 17 and signed with the program the next day. He was supposed to be at the Under Armour All-American game but pulled out due to an injury.
But the Georgia signee made it very clear to Manning that he would love to see him in Athens.
“He was on the same OV with me at Georgia and we’ve known each other since Oklahoma,” Manning said. “We just hit it off ever since. He loved it. He felt real positive about it and he wanted me to team up with him. We’ll see on Jan. 2.”
Dontae Manning contrasts Georgia and Oregon ahead of decision
More Georgia football stories from around DawgNation
- Darnell Washington: The family side of his early signing period decision
- All-American week snapshot: Which UGA signees and targets play where
- Jordan Burch: Why Georgia didn’t even crack his final 3
- 5-star RB Zach Evans shares ‘strongest connection’ and scope of decision prior to Jan. 2 announcement
- Even Mekhail Sherman was surprised when Kirby Smart, Georgia football flipped Jermaine Burton
- Broderick Jones: The 5-star OT details why he is still committed to Georgia