The Virginia Tech Hokies already knew they would be thin at cornerback after receiving the news that injured corner Antone Exum would likely be out until October. Sunday, they found out one of the top contenders to replace him was leaving the program as well.
Sophomore Donaldven Manning is apparently leaving the Hokies program immediately, after battling with true freshman Brandon Facyson to begin fall camp. The Miami native had four tackles and an interception as a sophomore, and was likely to earn plenty of playing time early in 2013.
There was no specific reason given for his departure, but the timing of the decision is bizarre. Normally, players transfer in the offseason so they have a chance to find a new school before the season begins. Manning’s decision to do so with only weeks remaining before the season opener is puzzling.
It’s possible he saw the writing on the wall, and thought Facyson was going to win the starting job. But even so, he would certainly have still seen action in nickel and dime packages against the many spread offenses on the Hokies schedule.
Now, the Hokies are relying on a few freshman to fill the void at corner, including heralded newcomer Kendall Fuller, who is one of the highest-ranked recruits to sign with the Hokies in school history, and defensive coordinator Bud Foster has already been impressed with his play.
“I’ve really been pleased with Kendall’s just football IQ, his body positioning,” Foster told reporters. “Just a very instinctive, solid technique-wise, beside the fact he has tremendous ability.”
That ability will be put to the test when they take on two-time defending national champion Alabama in their first game.