Ricky Manning Jr. is headed back to the NFL, this time as assistant secondary/cornerbacks coach with the Seattle Seahawks.
“My family and I are very thankful,” said Manning, whose ties to the Valley include stints as a player and coach at Edison High School.
Manning spent last season as a Fresno State graduate assistant. Other stops included Edison High as head coach in 2012, followed by two seasons at Fresno City College as defensive backs and special-teams coach.
A relationship that Manning built with Seattle defensive coordinator Kris Richard helped him land the job.
The pair competed against each other when Richard played for USC and Manning was at UCLA. Richard was drafted by the Seahawks in 2002 and Manning went in the third round the following year to the Carolina Panthers.
They wound up with the same agent and “reconnected” in 2014 after a preseason game.
“After the game, we exchanged numbers,” said Manning, who was on an internship with the Denver Broncos at the time while Richard was the Seahawks’ defensive backs coach. “Ever since, I’ve been keeping in contact with him.”
Manning, 35, said he had an interview with Seahawks coach Pete Carroll at the NFL scouting combine in Indianapolis and was offered the job Sunday. He plans to finish at Fresno State this week before packing his belongings and moving his family to the Pacific Northwest in a couple of weeks.
“Pete Carroll gave me a little time, which is good,” he said. “Help out here and finish some things and help transition other guys.”
Manning played in 84 career NFL games, making 38 starts and finishing with 268 tackles, 14 interceptions, four sacks and four forced fumbles as a cornerback. He also played for the Chicago Bears. Manning had five career playoff interceptions and played in Super Bowls XXXVIII and XLI with the Panthers and Bears, respectively.
“He wanted to know what kind of coach I am,” Manning said of his conversation with Carroll. “And what the expectations are for that (cornerbacks) position. I fit that description well: I’m a young and energetic coach who brings enthusiasm to practice every day and I reaffirmed that’s the kind of coach I am.
“It’s just the passion for the game that I have. You can tell that’s what he wanted for that position. Somebody like that; and obviously it helps with the experience that I had playing the position. I can relate to the guys well and (be) somebody that they can respect. I felt like God prepared me for this moment, and I’m well-prepared. I’m still growing as a person and as a coach.”