Washington State outside linebackers coach Roy Manning is prepared to become the next member of Chip Kelly’s UCLA staff, Sports Illustrated’s Bruce Feldman reported Wednesday.
The first-year Bruins coach is bringing Manning on as a special teams coordinator, per Feldman, which if true would end a three-year run with the Cougars.
During those three years, Manning, known for his energy and charisma, has become a coaching favorite among WSU fans and his postgame hype videos have often trended on social media following Cougar victories.
Feldman also reported that “several schools have been trying to hire Manning this winter.”
WSU media relations didn’t have enough information to comment on the report, but an anonymous source has confirmed to the S-R that the move is imminent.
Manning, a Saginaw, Michigan, native was hired by WSU coach Mike Leach in January of 2015, shortly after Alex Grinch accepted the defensive coordinator position in Pullman.
In 2017, Manning was responsible for grooming senior Rush linebacker Frankie Luvu, who had a breakout season with 12 tackles-for-loss – second only to Hercules Mata’afa – and 6.5 sacks to go along with two fumble recoveries and two interceptions.
Former safety Hunter Dale made tremendous growth in his first season under Manning’s watch. The starting nickel recorded eight tackles-for-loss, had three sacks, one forced fumble, one interception and four pass breakups.
Last season, WSU finished 16th nationally in total defense and, largely because of Manning’s group, tied for ninth in the FBS with 7.9 TFLs per game. The Cougars were also good for 2.92 sacks per game (tied for 20th) and were one of the nation’s best defenses on third down. Opponents converted just 28.5 percent of the time – good enough for fourth in the country.
Manning’s popularity among WSU fans skyrocketed, and perhaps made him one of the country’s most popular assistants, when he began tweeting postgame hype videos following Cougar victories.
Prior to WSU, Manning spent two seasons at his alma mater, Michigan, coaching the safeties in 2014 and the outside linebackers in 2013. Manning was also the running backs coach at Cincinnati. Before that, he played three NFL seasons with five different teams: the Green Bay Packers, Houston Texans, Buffalo Bills, Jacksonville Jaguars and Cincinnati Bengals.
If Manning leaves WSU, there’s a chance Leach will have to fill three positions on his staff. Grinch is reportedly leaving the Cougars to become the 10th assistant coach at Ohio State, though the Buckeyes won’t be able to make the hire official until Jan. 9. So WSU could be in the hunt for a new DC and outside linebackers coach. Leach will also have to fill his own 10th assistant coaching spot and has hinted at bringing in a defensive mind.
Kelly, the former Oregon coach who helped shape the Ducks into a national power, replaced Jim Mora at UCLA in late November. Kelly began building his staff in Westwood last month, bringing on former Oregon assistant Don Pellum as a linebackers coach and ex-Cal defensive line coach Jerry Azzinaro as defensive coordinator. Feldman also reported Wednesday that ex-Bruins QB Jerry Neuheisel would join Kelly’s program as a graduate assistant and former NFL quarterback Thad Lewis would join the staff as an offensive analyst.