University of Oklahoma head football coach Lincoln Riley announced Tuesday the hiring of Roy Manning as the program's cornerbacks coach. Manning, who served the 2018 season as UCLA's outside linebackers and special teams coach, also presided over outside linebackers under new OU defensive coordinator Alex Grinch at Washington State during the 2015-17 seasons when the Cougars orchestrated a major turnaround on that side of the ball.
An NFL player for three seasons who starred at Michigan, Manning also has coaching experience at his alma mater as well as at the University of Cincinnati.
Riley said Manning is extremely well-rounded and brings a lot to the OU program.
"Roy has proven to be one of the most dynamic recruiters in the country. He's got excellent experience at several great football programs, and has strong recruiting ties all over the place," commented Riley. "He's coached multiple positions, has coached on both sides of the ball and has been a special teams coordinator.
"You love the versatility he brings to your staff, and he obviously has ties with Coach Grinch from their time together. Those guys have a great working relationship and familiarity that I think is really important in this scenario. Roy's got a great personality and I think he's going to be a dynamic coach for us."
In 2014, the year before Manning and Grinch arrived at Washington State, the Cougars ranked 99th nationally in total defense (442.3 ypg), 127th in pass defense (296.6 ypg) and 127th in turnovers gained (8). In 2017, they ranked 16th in total defense (323.3 ypg), ninth in passing defense (170.9 ypg) and ninth in turnovers gained (28). Washington State also allowed only 11 touchdown passes in 2017, tied for fifth-fewest in the country. And its 103 tackles for loss were tied for eighth-fewest nationally.
The 2017 WSU pass defense also ranked first in the league and the run defense was fourth overall (152.4 ypg). The Cougars surrendered the fewest opponent first downs per game of any Pac-12 team (16.4) and owned the lowest opponent third-down conversion rate (28.5 percent).
Manning expressed excitement Tuesday about joining Riley and the Sooners.
"Oklahoma is obviously a historic and nationally recognized program in all facets," began Manning. "As far as football, it's as successful and consistent as any program's been. I think that's what separates OU is the consistency. They win a lot of football games there, and Coach Riley has done an unbelievable job of taking over the program and taking it to another level with the playoff appearances and the last two Heismans. It's a top destination in college football.
"Playing in Norman this past year on the other sideline, the fan support and atmosphere are second to none. Having the opportunity to join a program with such a winning culture is exciting and energizing. I'm really looking forward to getting started."
In 2016, Manning saw his Washington State outside linebackers combine to record 16 tackles for loss, 5.5 sacks and six turnovers. The Cougar defense finished the year third in the Pac-12 in rushing defense while forcing 23 turnovers, tied for fourth in the conference.
In his first season at WSU in 2015, Manning's outside linebackers combined for 26.5 tackles for loss and 12.0 sacks, while registering 146 tackles. Seniors Ivan McLennan (9 TFL/6 sacks) and Kache Palacio (10 TFL/5 sacks) joined with redshirt-junior Parker Henry (72 tackles/7.5 TFLs) as the core of the unit.
Manning indicated that OU fans should be excited for what's in store defensively under Grinch.
"I couldn't be more excited to link back up with Coach Grinch," he said. "He's as good a defensive coordinator as there is — as a motivator and as a teacher. And at the end of the day, stats don't lie. What he was able to do at Washington State over three years is unbelievable. I'm excited for him and his family, and I know the Oklahoma football family will be extremely excited when they see what we're going to bring on defense."
Manning arrived in Pullman after serving the previous two seasons at Michigan, working as the outside linebackers coach in 2013 and the cornerbacks coach in 2014. Under his direction, Wolverines SAM linebackers Cam Gordon and Jake Ryan combined for 70 tackles, 13 tackles for loss and five sacks in 2013 while defensive back Raymond Taylor earned All-Big Ten honors in 2014.
Manning served the 2012 campaign as the running backs coach at Cincinnati, helping the Bearcats lead the Big East in rushing with 201.5 yards per game. Running back George Winn assembled the second-best rushing season in school history with 1,334 yards (102.6 per game) and 13 touchdowns, both conference bests.
Prior to joining the Cincinnati staff, Manning served as an offensive graduate assistant at Michigan, where he worked with the offensive line and was part of a coaching staff that led the Wolverines to an 11-2 record and a victory in the 2012 Allstate Sugar Bowl over Virginia Tech. Manning's first coaching experience came at Cincinnati in 2010, where he worked as a defensive assistant.
Prior to his appointment in Cincinnati, Manning spent three seasons in the NFL with five different teams. The linebacker signed as a free agent with the Green Bay Packers in 2005. He played in 15 games and started two contests as a rookie, tallying 41 tackles and one pass breakup. Manning tied for third on the team with 21 tackles on special teams. He also had stints with the Houston Texans, Buffalo Bills, Jacksonville Jaguars and Cincinnati Bengals.
Manning played in 37 career games and made 10 starts at linebacker as a fifth-year senior with Michigan. He was named the Roger Zatkoff Award winner as the team's top linebacker in 2004 after posting 39 tackles, six tackles for loss and one sack. Manning finished his career with 72 stops, nine TFLs and three sacks.
A native of Saginaw, Mich., Manning earned his bachelor's degree in general studies from Michigan in 2004.