Mesa State’s Manley becoming big weapon

Mesa State College’s tight end Maurice Manley catches the ball during a passing drill.

Through all the struggles and frustration, Maurice Manley continued to learn.

Those lessons are turning into results this season for the Mesa State College senior tight end.

“It’s sunk in,” Manley said. “Coach (Jon) Boyer has done a great job explaining the offense. It took time, but I’m getting the hang of it.”

Manley (6-foot-5, 240 pounds) is becoming the big weapon the Mavericks need with the loss of all-time leading receiver Drew Bohannan to graduation. Manley has nearly half as many catches (9) in two games this season that he had all of last season (20).

“Coming in, we knew Mo would be huge for us,” Mesa State quarterback Phil Vigil said. “A lot of our plays are built around Mo being double-teamed.

“He is the most athletic big guy I’ve been around. He’s got the whole package. It makes it easy when linebackers are on him. We split him with the corner(back) and he goes and gets the ball in the end zone.”

Manley’s nine catches have gone for 100 yards (11.1 per catch). Two of his catches have been touchdowns.

The Central High School graduate had 20 receptions for 199 yards last season and 22 catches for 212 in his career entering this season.

He is third on the team in offense behind running back Bobby Coy (262) and Vigil (246).

“The coaches said I’d be a big part in this offense,” Manley said. “I’m glad I can fill in and do what I can.

“We’re starting to put it together. We’re capable of doing whatever we want.”

The Mavericks’ offense took a step back last week after opening the season with 20 points and 378 yards against West Texas A&M. Mesa State (0-2) produced 14 points and 239 yards in total offense last week against Central Washington. The Mavs averaged 258.8 yards a game in total offense last year.

“We have to execute,” Vigil said. “The offense is 100 percent better than last year. It’s not even comparable.

We played bad (last week), but there were still moments we could drive the ball. I’m confident we can control the clock and put points on the board.”

Mesa State coach Joe Ramunno envisioned Manley becoming a key component of the West Coast offense Boyer installed a year ago.

“Mo has worked extremely hard,” Ramunno said. “He feels comfortable out there. He’s got the body to play beyond this level. He’s got to execute and focus on doing one thing at a time.”

Manley has come a long way since starting his college career as a defensive end.

“It’s a good change for him,” Ramunno said. “He could’ve been a good defensive end.”

As a redshirt freshman, Manley recorded 10 assisted tackles and one sack.

He would have liked to stay on defense, but is happy as a tight end, too.

“It would’ve been great (to play defensive end),” Manley said. “The defense is amazing. Dom (Applehans) is phenomenal, but I’m glad it worked out. I’m glad I can help the team.”


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