There must be something in the waters in Tampa Bay. In fact, maybe it’s just the Sunshine State.
If you combine our Scout rankings of this class and the next there are currently seven five-star defensive ends, four of which are from the state of Florida. Of those four, two are from Tampa in 2015 standout Byron Cowart and next year’s blue-chipper, Shavar Manuel.
Manuel, 6-foot-4, 260-pounds, stars at Tampa Blake high school, and he’s the next big thing in recruiting from the Bay area. In fact, at this time he’s the top rated recruit from Florida in 2016 (to see video of Manuel in action from last Friday click HERE).
“Call me biased but I think he’s the best defensive end around,” said Anthony Davis, Blake’s defensive coordinator. “I know. I played at the highest level and who can tell me who’s better than this guy?”
Davis knows a thing or two about the game of football. He played offensive tackle in the NFL for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. He has been working closely with his star pupil for two years now. Last season Manuel led the state in sacks with 20. It’s scary because he still has two full seasons of high school ball left.
“I see a kid in Shavar that is so eager to learn,” Davis said. “He wants to get better and better each day. He’s so coachable. That’s the best thing about him. That’s what makes him so special. And he’s yes sir no sir all the time.
“As a player he has violent hands. You don’t see that with high school kids. He already has the swim move and rip. Of course he’s so strong and he can bull rush you. He already is playing with some technique. He has speed. He has explosiveness. But he’s still so young.”
Manuel is blessed athletically. But he’s also lucky to call Davis coach. He relishes the idea to learn from someone with his credentials.
“Yeah, he’s hard on me but I know he’s teaching me things,” Manuel said. “He’s hard but great. There is nothing light he does with me. I had some success last season but I have to forget about that and get back to work. He’s very aggressive and rides me whether I am going good or bad. He preaches to me all the time to throw away all the stars next to my name. It’s about me and my teammates at Blake. I just need to keep working hard all the time.”
Last season was a launching pad for Manuel despite playing well as a freshman at Blake, where he recorded a dozen sacks. The University of Floridaoffered him his first scholarship in November. Between the end of last season and June he garnered offers from Florida State, Alabama, Miami and every team in the SEC and ACC. Ohio State, UCLA, USC and most of the teams from across the country have offered him as well. This off-season Manuel visited two schools – Alabama and FSU.
Manuel wouldn’t get into a recruiting discussion after his team’s opening game loss to Tampa Bay Tech on Friday but the Hurricanes are his current leader. While it’s very early in his recruitment, you can bet the Seminoles, Gators, Crimson Tide and everyone else will be all over him, courting him for his signature come February, 2016.
Manuel is the next big thing when it comes to defensive ends from Tampa and you can sure bet this five-star will stay after it hard both on and off the field.