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Dontae Manning/Twitter
Dontae Manning will give Georgia an official visit in December. That will be one to watch.

DawgFamily? Nation’s No. 7 CB Dontae Manning details his long-time interest in UGA

Want to attack every day with the latest UGA football recruiting info? That’s what the Intel brings. This offering is a chance to get to know senior CB target, Dontae Manning. There’s a lot to this young man aside from an abiding interest in playing for UGA. 

Dontae Manning has made a lot of “OMG” plays for his Raytown High (Kansas City, Mo.) football team. He plans to take an “OV” to UGA in December. Georgia coach Kirby Smart has even compared him to a current NFL star.

OMG. OV. UGA. NFL.

There’s an even better set of initials out there that shows what the nation’s No. 7 cornerback prospect (247Sports Composite) might mean to even the nation’s most elite programs.

LLB.

Long. Live. Brent. 

That “LLB” has meant something to Manning and his Raytown Bluejay community. It still means a lot.

Brent Kuhnhenn passed this month after a long fight with cancer. He was the father-in-law of the head coach at Raytown. His trial with his illness sparked a “BrentStrong” movement within that community. Kuhnhenn’s fight led to more than earrings with a logo for his cancer fight. It sparked hashtags, helmet stickers and even widespread T-shirt sales around Raytown.

It also inspired an Under Armour All-American with blistering speed and playmaking ability.

It still does.

“I mean everybody knows somebody who has lost somebody to a battle with cancer,” Manning said. “Or they know that cancer patient personally. It really affected me here because I also had family members that I lost because of cancer. Just being around Brent while he was alive and walking on the Earth affected me. He was just so motivated it motivated me.”

“He was still coming to games. Still living his life. Losing him was a big piece of me. It was a big piece of why I played football and why I still play football.”

During the waning weeks of his life, Kunhhenn was a fixture at Bluejay events. That wasn’t much different than a lot of his time around the school, but it was different.

It led to moments where strong young men fed off the example he was setting. Even in declining health.

“I’ve got two memories,” Manning said. “There was one where I scored my second touchdown or something like that and he was just right there and he gave me the biggest high-five and hug. Or there was a picture when I was walking to hug him and he was like ‘I love you’ and that was one of my favorite memories of him.”

That moment was about a month before Kuhnhenn passed away. He will cherish it. Always.

There’s a sincerity to Manning that is uncommon compared to a lot of the prospects on the recruiting trail. His July de-commitment tweet from Oklahoma is a clear expression of that.

We’ve been discussing Manning for a few weeks on the DawgNation message board forum and our live weekly “Before the Hedges” show on Facebook, Twitter and YouTube.

The young man he aims to be is on vivid display in the above examples. But he can really play, too.

Dontae Manning: The quick-hit things to know 

Manning is going to go to Georgia. At least in December for an official visit.

That’s been the case for over a month. He already has strong lines of communication with current members of the team.

Let’s quickly rep out a lot of quick info bursts about Manning:

  • Very good size for the cornerback spot: 6 feet and 193 pounds.
  • Plays all over the field for his HS: Offense. Defense. Special teams. Stands out as an elite prospect in all phases.
  • State champion level track speed with strong times (10.67) in the 100 and 200 (21.96) meters during his junior season. Has also cleared 22 feet in the long jump. Manning is a 4-time All-State selection in track.
  • Still considers Oklahoma as a major contender for his decision
  • Has taken officials to Oklahoma and Texas A&M already. Recently nailed down Arizona State, Oregon and UGA as his final officials.
  • He can enroll early, but will not. He still wants to still have his senior year in track.
  • As of now, he plans to make a silent commitment sometime prior to the early signing period. He will sign with his future school during that stretch but keep that on the hush until he shares his decision at the Under Armour All-American Game. He will then have a signing ceremony at Raytown in February.
  • Plans a major which will either bring it all back to sports (Sports Marketing, Communications) or a business management degree pursuit with a minor in graphic design.
  • What position does he aim to play? “Anywhere the coaches put me I feel like that will be in my best interests to play and do my best. That’s where the team will need me the most.”
  • He expanded on that thought. “Where ever they put me, I am going to ball out. Whether it is at safety. Whether it is at cornerback. Even if it is in a ‘Wildcat’ package, then I know that I will be successful.”
  • Said he’s been hand-timed at 10.4 seconds in the 100 meters. That’s a goal for his laser time during state track season in the spring.
  • His pure 247Sports rating has him even higher. Manning is rated as the nation’s No. 3 cornerback prospect and No. 29 player overall. He is the No. 1 prospect from the state of Missouri.

Check out his junior film. It won’t take too long to figure out why Manning said Kirby Smart compared him to NFL Pro Bowler Jalen Ramsey.

Dontae Manning: Where UGA sits and Oklahoma looms

Manning detailed why he reversed his commitment to Oklahoma over the summer.

“Many people thought I de-committed because I hated OU or I felt differently about them,” he said. “Really I felt like I needed to start over because I didn’t do my recruitment right. I didn’t really take the time out to look at depth charts and everything like that.”

“OU remains really like my number one choice right now or right at the top of my decision. But that’s why I de-committed.”

That said, he feels Oklahoma still recruits him as hard as any other school.

“I would say out of all the schools it is still Oklahoma,” he said. “They treat me like I am their son. I get texts from coaches from Oklahoma every day.”

The Bulldogs were among the top three schools hitting him up at this time.

Georgia was already recruiting him at the time he de-committed. The Bulldogs have been recruiting him since his sophomore year. That’s when the staff saw him at a team camp he attended with a teammate.

“It really started like my sophomore year,” he said.

Why is Georgia now a finalist?

“Just Georgia being an SEC school and the chance of winning a national championship,” he said. “Then them just spitting out DBs into the league, too. I have a good relationship with the head coach and even the position coaches which just got there.”

“I really have a good relationship with the program.”

He said that he speaks with Smart on the phone almost every week.

“With coach Smart, when we get on the phone he really doesn’t talk about the football aspect,” he said. “More of who I reminded him of. As far as Jalen Ramsey. He went on to talk about track speed and how I am lengthy and how I can be used basically anywhere on the field.”

Where did that “Dawg family” come from on that above tweet?

“That’s because I really know the program,” he said. “I reached out to a couple of players at Georgia. Just having conversations about the program and everything like that. That feels like family. That’s why I used that term. Then they treat me like family, too. We text like family. It is just like that.”

When those talks happen, those Georgia defensive backs shoot him straight. No chaser. Those details include the plan for how UGA spits its DBs into the NFL.

When he visits UGA in December, he will want to see:

  • How the position meetings go
  • How the players interact with one another and the staff
  • Getting the real 1-on-1 about the program from the current Bulldogs

How hard will his decision be?

“I think it is hard because it has to do with my whole entire life,” he said. “But at the end of the day, I feel like I am going to know. I will. Because that will be the place that feels like home.”

Manning doesn’t know his choice right now. He feels he has more research to do.

“I’m looking for an overall family,” he said. “Someplace where I fall in love with the campus. When my parents see it, too. They just fall in love with it. A place they would approve of minus all of the football aspects.”

Dontae Manning-UGA football-Georgia football
Donate Manning was deeply moved by the “LLB” movement around his Raytown High School football community. (Dontae Manning/Twitter)

What motivates Dontae Manning

The SEC grind is grueling. It almost becomes too taxing for a player to truly excel when they don’t have a “why” that fills their life with a burning desire to be great.

Manning also a purposeful horizon there.

“Where I’m from as far as Kansas City, not a lot of people I would say ‘make it out’ or have a positive outlet to display their talents,” Manning said. “I would say that motivates me. But I also do it for the people that I have lost and the people who can’t play football. That’s maybe due to an injury or the people who wish they could but maybe are not just cut out for it. I just play for family and what I could potentially be in this game.”

His teammates call him “Craz 8”  and “Speed” or “Tae” and “Locksmith 8” at times. That last one deserves further review from the cool nickname department.

“It is a lockdown thing,” Manning said. “Then only I’ve got the keys. If you are open, then it means I only want you to be open for a period of time.”

That’s proof positive he’s a cornerback at heart. It sounds like something Deion Sanders might say. To open the window in coverage just long enough to lay the bait. To get a quarterback to risk a downfield throw.

“Yes, sir,” Manning said. “That’s it.”

Manning’s film does not equate to a china shop cornerback. Or a 7-on-7 hero. His favorite play on his highlight tape has nothing to do with offense or defense.

He flashes brightly on special teams.

“It was on kickoff running down the field, getting by a blocker and then picking up the ball carrier and then slamming them on the ground,” he told DawgNation.

There’s something bigger here for him with the game than his highlight-reel touchdowns.

“I think the big thing for me now is seeing my teammates succeed,” he said. “I’m one of the chilliest or funniest 18-year-olds you will ever meet. I am always on my friends to excel. My friends know me for trying to put them on to another college coach to get their name out there. Just even those simple retweets every day. I want my circle to succeed more than anything. I love it when people succeed around me. Especially the younger guys and the young kids. If you see me around kids, then that’s when you will see the real me.”

That’s the young man that “Papa Brent” got to know so well, too.

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