Oct. 30, 2013
James Manuel likes to talk. A lot. So much in fact that his teammate and roommate Ra’Shede Hageman called him “the best trash talker on the team.”
For example, here is what Manuel says when it comes to the popular Madden NFL video game: “I am the best on the team. I have a few trophies. I stand by it and stick to it. I beat guys on the team all the time.”
He describes his well-grown beard as “a piece of art that is in the making” and is quick to point out that his body fat – an astonishing 6.5 percent – has been recorded as the lowest on the team. Naturally that would mean that he has the best physique on the team as well. “Definitely. No doubt about that. It is really kind of a gap between me and the second-best person.”
And when it comes to clothes and swag, the self-proclaimed fastest linebacker on the team has that covered as well, “I am the best dressed and have the best swag on the team. Swag is your body type and what you have for clothes. If you can make that come together and make people turn their heads and say that is a well-dressed guy, then you got swag.”
Yes, Manuel likes to talk, but this past summer he zipped his lip as he made the trek three times a week across the Hennepin Avenue Bridge to Nicollet Island to intern with the DeLaSalle High School football team.
The loquacious Manuel is a Youth Studies major and as it turns out he is a pretty good listener as well.
“I like to work with kids,” said Manuel, who also helped the assistant coaches on the football team. “I talked to them about whatever they want to talk about or about whatever they felt comfortable talking about. Sometimes it was about college, their grades or girls. Wherever they needed advice I was there to help them.”
Manuel’s love of football certainly played a role in the internship as well, as he donated his time to helping the Islanders’ football team better themselves in the weight room. He also saw the team bond together and become more unified as they prepared for the upcoming season.
As much as Manuel gave the school with his internship, it was Manuel who perhaps benefitted the most. The Indianapolis, Ind., native harbors aspirations to one day be a football coach, so when he was giving back to DeLaSalle, he was also soaking up as much information as he could.
“I really want to get into coaching, either on the high school or college level,” said Manuel. “I would want to be a defensive coordinator or head coach in high school or an assistant coach at the college game.
“I learned that I definitely need to be a student of the game, as far as coaching goes. I thought with me coming in as a safety and then transitioning over to linebacker that I knew a lot. But I need to learn more. In order to coach the game, you have to know everything and I learned that during my internship. I was put into situations where I was not 100 percent sure what to do with regard to play calling. We would go to passing tournaments and the defensive coordinator (Shane Rohman) would tell me take control, so I definitely learned a few things.”
Manuel even attributed some of the things he learned this past summer to helping him become even a better Madden NFL player.
“When you play Madden you need to have good game management skills and this summer helped me with that as well,” he said.
During his Minnesota football career, there are a few things that Manuel has never had to learn though. One of them was who to talk trash to and who to leave alone. Does he ever get lippy with his 315-pound and physically imposing roommate?
“No, he knows better than that,” said Hageman.
Story by athletic communications associate director Paul Rovnak
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