By BRAD KEITH
STEPHENVILLE (August 3, 2015) — Bryan Manley is coming home to Stephenville to play for Tarleton State.
Rumors floated for several days concerning Manley transferring away from Division I-Football Championship Subdivision member Central Arkansas, where he has played and attended school since earning his second Associated Press Sports Editors All-State honor and helping Stephenville to the 2012 3A Division I state championship.
On Monday, the 6-4, 300-pound offensive lineman confirmed those rumors, citing family and several past teammates as the primary reasons for his transfer. He made three starts and saw action in 16 games at UCA and has two years of eligibility remaining.
“I’m going to get the chance to play with some of my old teammates, great guys like Chase (Varnado), Alex (Sanchez), Tyler (Pettit) and (Brayden) Coverdale,” Manley said. “That, and over the past two years I’ve realized UCA just isn’t the right fit for me and I wanted to come closer to home. It’s hard on my family, especially my grandparents, to drive seven or eight hours to come see me play.”
Manley bolsters an offensive line that Tarleton head coach Cary Fowler was already calling one of the strongest areas of his team. Four starters return up front, including Stephenville products Kody Travis at tackle and preseason All-American Nic Perez at guard. Latham Johnson is also back at guard and Robert Hinton at center.
“I learned to play every position on the offensive line at UCA. They even taught me to snap. I started out at tackle, moved around some and finally landed at guard,” said Manley. “I just want to come in and whether I’m starting or coming off the bench find a way to help the team win. I can’t wait to meet the rest of the team and get started learning the offense.”
As a whole the Tarleton offense returns nine starters after amassing 522.8 yards and 43.7 points per game last season, when the Texans were 5-5 and finished third in the inaugural Lone Star Conference playoff. They are picked fourth in the LSC this season, according to the official preseason poll released Tuesday.
Manley says since he shared his intent to transfer Tarleton head coach Cary Fowler and offensive coordinator and line coach Mason Miller have gone out of their way to welcome him.
“Coach Fowler has been great, very welcoming and supportive. Him and Coach Miller have helped me get my paperwork ready and get ready for fall camp,” said Manley. “And getting to work with Coach (Rod) Cole is another reason I’m excited. He’s a great strength coach.”
Tarleton reports for camp next Wednesday, August 12. Its season and home opener against Findlay (Ohio) is Saturday, Sept. 12.