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Tashawn Manning looks to be an anchor on Kentucky’s offensive line

The Auburn transfer will be critical to the success of the Big Blue Wall

COLLEGE FOOTBALL: NOV 20 Auburn at South Carolina

After the Big Blue Wall lost some key pieces from last season, Kentucky went to the transfer portal. In Auburn transfer Tashawn Manning, the Wildcats coaching staff believes they found a guy who will be an anchor in the middle of the line.

Tashawn Manning

  • Position: Offensive Line
  • Class: Super senior
  • Measurements: 6-foot-4, 330 lbs.
  • Hometown: Apopka, Florida
  • Previous School: Auburn University
  • Recruiting Rankings: Was ranked as a 3-star recruit and the No. 61 defensive tackle in the country by 247 Sports Composite.

Manning comes to Kentucky as a graduate transfer after spending the past four years at Auburn. He was actually considered a defensive line recruit but eventually settled in along the offensive line.

After redshirting in 2017 and seeing action in just one game in 2018, Manning began to find a role for the Tigers in 2019. He saw action in four games and earned a starting spot for the Tigers in 2020, where he started 11 games.

Manning saw action in 12 games for Auburn last season, and performed well, grading out as Auburn’s best run blocker by Pro Football Focus.

Those skills should serve him well as he makes his way to Lexington where he’ll be a part of the Big Blue Wall, which has been among the best run-blocking groups in the country in recent years.

What makes Manning’s journey even more incredible is he battled cancer to get to this point. He was diagnosed with Acute Promyelocytic Leukemia in 2015 and began chemotherapy treatment. He was a class of 2016 recruit but ended up spending most of that year undergoing chemo and took community college classes.

“I started taking community college courses while I was taking chemo and I wasn’t that excited about where I was,” Manning said in August of 2021. “I was frustrated and disappointed.”

After undergoing treatment for eight months, Manning was declared cancer free.

“The one thing I’ll look back on through the ups and downs is always trying to keep a positive outlook on life,” Manning said. “Whatever I did on and off the field, I just tried to enjoy the experience while I was in the moment because you don’t get these moments back. From play to play, day to day, I just tried to take everything in and just tried to make the most of it every day.”

Thus far, Manning has had a strong training camp and looks primed to win the starting right guard spot along Kentucky’s offensive line this fall. The physically imposing Manning drew some attention through spring practices and should help form a strong trio in the middle of the line with center Eli Cox and fellow guard Kenneth Horsey.

This spring, some of Kentucky’s defenders talked about Manning’s strength on the offensive line.

“He’s strong. He’s real strong. When he puts his hands on you it’s hard to get them off,” said Tre’vonn Rybka. “Don’t let him touch you.”

“I call him the little refrigerator because once he gets his hands on you it’s over with,” said Jacquez Jones.

There's a lot to like about what Manning brings to the table. At his size, he’ll certainly be hard to miss in Kroger Field this year.

Expect to see Kentucky run the ball between the tackles early and often this season, with Manning, Cox, and Horsey leading the way.

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