NORMAN — Roy Manning used social media to give updates on Meet the Sooners Day.
The Oklahoma cornerbacks coach introduced the first person in line. Manning admired a fan’s #OUDNA tattoo. He celebrated with a Special Olympics winner. And then the first-year assistant made a video with a young boy wearing a “Commit” shirt, asking all of the current scholarship offers to choose OU.
During the open portion of practice Monday, Manning was vocal while coaching the cornerbacks. There was no option for quiet time.
Is Manning that enthusiastic all of the time?
“Yeah. … I don’t want that to trump his ability to coach the game,” OU defensive coordinator Alex Grinch said. “1A on the Roy Manning description is that he’s an elite coach, an elite recruiter and then an impressive professional in our business. But he also comes with that side, which is just fun for us as coaches. We enjoy it.
“You see a real side to him, and the nice thing is that is not fluff. It is him. It comes from a good place and having fun in a very serious sport and kind of occupation type of thing,” Grinch added. “It’s nice to have those moments. So he takes advantage of it and so it’s fun to be around.”
Manning came to OU from UCLA. He’s charged with upgrading a position that contributed to the NCAA’s worst passing defense in the country, statistically.
Manning still is evaluating the position for the Sept. 1 opener against Houston.
“It’s been good,” Manning said about the cornerbacks’ work. “We haven’t really cut it loose yet. We’ve just had a few more physical periods, so we’re still evaluating. Up to this point, guys are giving a lot of great effort. We just want to keep pushing forward that way.”
Parnell Motley has played a lot of football for the Sooners. Manning is challenging the senior to have his best season.
“I remind him every day that he has five months left. I remind him every day,” Manning said. “It is my belief that seniors should have their best year. He has a good grasp on this game, and now we’re looking for him to really go out and have his best practices and relish in the moment.”
Tre Brown started the last eight games at cornerback and had a team-high eight pass breakups last year.
“He’s looking really good,” Manning said. “All of those guys had a really good summer, and it’s been really cool to see that kind of transition. They just seemed to be more locked in right now.”
Jordan Parker had eight starts at cornerback in 2016 and was injured in the opener of the 2017 campaign. He only saw action in seven games last season and is transitioning from safety back to cornerback.
“Up to this point, he’s been really good. He’s been really locked in meetings and really locked down on the field,” Manning said about the junior. “He’s really had a great camp here. I hope that continues in the next few weeks. He’s flashed and you can see that ability that people spoke about when he was a freshman.”
Freshmen Jaden Davis and Woodi Washington continue to adapt to the college game, Brown said. The pair is getting a strong handle on OU football.
“They’re amazing,” Brown said. “They came in and were up to par. They knew everything. They are actually ahead of how we came in here. They are really bright and are going to help us this year.”
Added Manning: “We tend to install heavy on the front end. We expect a good amount of mistakes, and then we kind of settle in. They hit their freshman wall. I don’t care who you are and what star you are, you haven’t practiced at the level of a major Division I football team. Usually about six, seven, eight days in, you see them start to wear down and then settle a little more. You start to be positive with the young guys, encourage them. … I’ve been surprised by those guys. They’ve done a really good job out there.”
Manning looped sophomore Miguel Edwards into the “young guy” group, too. He said the installation of his system has not been overwhelming for players like Edwards.
“Miguel is getting really comfortable,” Brown said. “He’s starting to get into his groove. He’s been playing really consistent, and he’s bound to break out. He could really help us this year.”