The first thing I couldn’t believe about Mario Manningham is that an American with the name ‘Manningham’ – a distinctly British moniker, as in an area of Bradford, West Yorkshire, or an Australian suburb just east of Melbourne, or The Hon. Dame Eliza Manningham-Buller, director general of the British internal national security agency under Tony Blair – wasn’t a lily white heir to the Manningham Refrigeration and Appliance fortune or something in Middlesex, Connecticut, with at least some passing familiarity at being refered to by the help as "Lord." The second thing I couldn’t believe is how short he was – after years of succession through lanky, NFL-style leapers Amani Toomer, Tai Streets, David Terrell, Marquise Walker, Braylon Edwards and Jason Avant, the assumption that any Wolverine receiver as fluid and obviously destined for "next big thing" status as Manningham must be in the same 6-2, 210-pound mold, at least. But Manningham barely stood six feet, if that, and unlike his predecessors was a much greater threat to get past receivers with sheer speed that to go up over them for catches in traffic (Edwards’ specialty).
Manningham and Arrington: Gone and gone.
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He was good enough at this to still project as a first round pick despite his height, a status he and bigger, less touted receiving mate Adrian Arrington will be taking advantage of directly, according to their new coach, and not necessarily under the most amicable circumstances:
Rodriguez confirmed the news in an impromptu briefing with the media at halftime of the men's basketball game against Indiana. Rodriguez also said his staff is nearly complete, but he needs to add a defensive coordinator and give some assistants specific roles with the team by this weekend.
In regard to Manningham and Arrington, Rodriguez said both players didn't attend a team meeting Monday, so he expects both to test the NFL waters. Mallett also didn't attend the meeting.
Rodriguez said Arrington text-messaged him Tuesday about his plans to pursue the professional draft. Rodriguez said he hasn't spoken to Manningham since the Wolverines' Capital One Bowl victory over Florida.
"Obviously, with Mario and Adrian, they made a decision they thought would help them professionally and decided to come out early," Rodriguez said. "We wish them well and that's all I have to say about that."
As for Mallett, Rodriguez declined to give many details. But when pressed on the freshman's status, he replied: "I don't care. He's not playing for Michigan. I'm concerned with who's playing for Michigan."
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Mallett, for the record, said he "felt forced out" by Rodriguez's option offense, having signed on to be a dropback passer. His old quarterback coach/recruiter, Scott Loeffler, is interviewing with Texas A&M, UCLA and Tennessee (he reportedly had his second interview with the Vols today) and Mallett's dad said Tennessee could be the place, especially if it hired Loeffler and ousted Wolverine offensive coordinator Mike DeBord. Howler quote for Wolverine partisans:
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Elsewhere, countering the good news that receiver Aaron Kelly will be staying in school, Clemson’s James Davis has to decided to break up one of the country’s most simultaneously dangerous and disappointing tailback duos by taking his jersey-stretching talents to the draft, leaving hearstopping but inconsistent C.J. Spiller to carry the rushing load of next year’s potentially sensational Tiger offense.
Sometimes, even James Davis’ shirt could only hope to contain him. But only sometimes.
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Also Declaring Early: All-SEC linebacker Jerod Mayo of Tennessee, a likely first day pick; Linebacker Geno Hayes of Florida State, excellent in pursuit and standing shirtless, screaming profanities and waving his arms wildly outside a bar before being tasered by police but undersized at just 220 pounds; and all-ACC safety DaJuan Morgan of N.C. State, whose excellent tackle total is mitigated to a great degree by the fact that he played safety for N.C. State and had plenty of opportunities.