Shady Spring – Shady Spring junior Cameron Manns has stepped into a football game to replace an injured starter at quarterback, leading the Tigers to comeback victory in his first game on the road, won a state championship in basketball and pitched a one-hit gem in a sectional elimination game against rival Independence.
He’s done all of that in the last 12 months.
Perhaps most astonishing about all of it is how someone so accomplished is open to accepting new roles.
In basketball he came off the bench most of the season but was inserted into the starting lineup during the postseason title run. In baseball he only played the field when third baseman Alex Johnston was pitching.
Now heading into his junior season of football he might be making another change – to wide receiver.
“That’s just the type of person I am,” Manns said. “I’ve been like that since I was young. I just do what the coaches ask and get the job done. I like doing different things and trying different things. I like seeing if I’m good at it or not. And if I’m not I’ll do the things I am good at doing. But I like trying out new things.”
After splitting quarterback duties last season with Jared Lilly, Manns comes into the season competing with sophomore Brady Green for the spot behind center.
That’s opened him up to the possibility of splitting out wide to give the Tigers another weapon in the passing game. It’s not something totally unfamiliar to him as his dad Nate Manns, a standout at Beckley, played the same position at Marshall University.
That’s a welcome mindset for Shady coach Vince Culicerto.
Culicerto has been known for his fondness of airing the ball out, but also implementing systems that utilize two quarterbacks. In 2017 Joe Cantley and Drew Clark split reps at the position and last year Manns and Lilly split reps, though that was mostly due to injuries and necessity. Still, he plans to utilize the 6-foot-3 Manns however he can.
“The big thing with Cameron, and I really saw it in basketball season is that he’s cool,” Culicerto said. “You saw it in baseball too. When they said he was pitching that game with their season on the line I went ‘they’re going to be fine.’ He loves big moments. He’s relaxed, he’s cool which is great. Sometimes too cool, but he’s just a cool guy and nothing rattles him. That’s probably his best quarterback quality.
“That’s a huge thing with him. He accepts those challenges and we’ve thrown some balls to him as a receiver and even put him at defensive back a little bit. He’s a smart football player, knows what to do and makes big plays. We’re hoping we’ll get that from him wherever he plays.”
For Manns, he doesn’t have much of a preference on where he lines up.
“It doesn’t really matter as long as I can help the team,” Manns said. “Me and Brady (Green) can both throw the ball so I feel like if I go out there he’ll get me the ball and if he’s out there I’ll get him the ball. I think we’ll be a good duo.”
Manns also sees the upside to both positions.
“At quarterback I like seeing the field,” Manns said. “When my receivers are open I like to get them the ball and when I’m playing wide receiver it’s kind of natural because that’s what my dad played in college. It kind of comes natural. He’s helped me. He’s told me I’ve got to be ready to take the hits if need be, block for your teammates and catch the ball of course. Don’t hold, just the little things.”
Manns will see his first action on Aug. 27 when Shady Spring hosts Tug Valley to open the season.
Contact Tyler Jackson at firstname.lastname@example.org, call him at 304-731-5542 and follow on Twitter @tjack94