It feels like it was yesterday that we were discussing how big of a deal it was that Nebraska landed wide receiver Omar Manning. The top-rated junior college wide receiver arrived at Nebraska with high hopes. He was billed as a different type of receiver than the team had before. The team needed to get bigger at the position and Manning (6-4, 225) fit perfectly.
His career in Lincoln has been up and down so far. He didn’t play much his first season. Manning said that last year he felt like he got his foot in the door with the offense. He was third on the team in receiving, posting 26 catches for 380 yards and a pair of scores. Now he’s ready to build off that experience and move forward to have a productive 2022.
“I’m comfortable right now, this is home for me,” Manning said. I feel great.”
The pass-catcher could be on his way to a productive season from a different spot on the field. Manning’s move to playing more slot receiver has caught the attention of many this spring. Offensive coordinator Mark Whipple likes his versatility inside. Getting reps inside has excited the third-year Husker, who has been moving around this spring.
“I actually went back outside but these past two weeks I’ve been inside,” Manning said. “I love how much space you can play with going against linebackers. A lot of them can’t keep up with me and I’m matched up with safeties that really can’t cover like that. I like it for me personally.”
Wide receivers coach Mickey Joseph has also helped Manning. The coach has set a different tone for the room that caught Manning’s attention right away. He says that to play for Joseph you have to have that ‘dog mentality.’
That mentality is the same one you need to attack linebackers playing in the slot. There is a certain intensity and attention to detail that Joseph brings to the table.
“You can tell he loves game of football,” Manning said. “He loves the players he coaches. The first day he came in, you could tell what kind of coach he was going to be. He came in very intense and we like that. The first day when he came in he put us in a group message. He said the first thing we’re doing is we want to catch 5,000 balls. From when the season was over to when you got in for spring we had to catch 5,000 balls. We already knew what time it was.”
Catching 5,000 balls is a lot of work. It takes dedication in the offseason. That is part of the mentality that Joseph is trying to create in that receiver room. Manning feels it. Joseph explained it on Tuesday.
“I spoke to all of them and they’re playing for roster spots,” Joseph said. “It’s not the old days where you’re just going to sit here for three years and not play. You’re playing for roster spots and you’re going to get it done or you’re going to get it done somewhere else. Because we’re not going to sit back and just try to help you develop and you’re not going to continue to develop.”
Joseph can be a demanding coach. The receivers we have talked to this spring have backed that up. Manning says that he loves how hands-on Joseph is. He wants his coach to be in his ear to tell him what he is doing right or wrong on each play. The Huskers are hoping that a different message for Manning and the wideouts can unlock the potential of the group.
Greg is the Recruiting Analyst for Hail Varsity and has covered Husker athletics since 2013. He has always had a passion for sports while growing up in the Chicago area. As he got older and had to hang up his cleats and sneakers, he realized his passion for sports went beyond just watching and attending games. He has covered many events from the Rose Bowl to championship boxing matches. If he’s not talking sports, he’s hovering over his grill. He is married to an amazing woman, Kim, and they have a dog that barks when Greg yells at the TV during games.