Omar Manning had a slow start to his Nebraska career, but made his presence felt against Oklahoma.
With under six minutes left in the fourth quarter, the Huskers were down 14 with the ball at the Sooners’ 21-yard-line. Manning lined up on the left side and went deep, and a running Adrian Martinez hit him in the endzone for a touchdown.
That impressive, outstretched catch kept Nebraska in the game before it eventually lost 23-16. Manning finished the game with two receptions for 51 yards. The first came in the opening quarter, as Martinez hit him wide open across the middle for a 32-yard gain on third-and-long.
He was a standout, catching the team’s only passing touchdown on the day and finishing second on the Huskers in receiving yards behind Zavier Betts. It was his first touchdown as a Husker, in a stint that has been an up-and-down journey so far.
Manning came to Nebraska after being the top junior college receiver in the country. He spent two years at Kilgore College, but started his career at TCU in 2017 and redshirted. As a former member of the Big 12, this game meant even more for the junior wide receiver.
“I felt good, looking at the schedule that’s one you check off,” he said. “Just in general because it’s Oklahoma and they’re a Big 12 opponent, but I know a lot of guys on their sideline, I know a lot of their coaches.”
Manning was expected to be a significant part of the Husker offense in 2020, but that never materialized. The only game he played in was against Northwestern, where he was targeted once and didn’t have a catch. He missed the rest of the season due to undisclosed injuries.
Coming into today, he had racked up a bit more success. In the season opener, he had a pair of catches for 26 yards, then grabbed three passes for 54 yards against Fordham, including a 32-yarder.
Injuries kept him out once again against Buffalo, however. Head coach Scott Frost said postgame he was glad to have Manning and Betts, who got hurt during the Buffalo game, back to give the team more weapons downfield.
“We need to keep putting the ball in the air downfield and back people up,” Frost said. “Omar and Zavier are going to help us do that.”
Manning sees something similar. The receiver core has been banged up this year, and Oliver Martin is still out of the lineup after having over 100 yards against Illinois. When the offense does get going, Manning has a lot of confidence in it.
“I think the sky’s the limit,” Manning said. “… We’ve got Adrian, tremendous quarterback, our tight ends are great, offensive line is very good. When we’re clicking, I don’t think no one can stop us, honestly.”
Manning said that the biggest thing he learned over the past year was “patience.” Along with missing most of last season, he hasn’t been a regular starter so far this year.
Still, he’s looking to continue to make the most of his chances, and is appreciating the opportunities he does get.
“I’m more appreciative of moments like this,” Manning said. “I just cherish it.”