‘It’s so much more than me’: NU wide receiver Omar Manning talks mental health and makes sense at NU | national


Steven M. Sipple and Parker Gabriel give the four most interesting pieces of information after the Husker press conference on Monday.

Omar Manning wants to share his story.

He wants you to hear it, wants other varsity athletes to hear it, wants anyone trying to unveil the layers of their sanity to hear it too.

Because he is there, he takes care of it every day. And nearly two years after enlisting in Nebraska, he recovered from a low point in his life to begin to become the playmaker the Huskers thought he could be, and the man that ‘he wants to be away from the spotlight.

“I want to tell my story and help others who are facing this. Because it’s so much more than me,” Manning said Monday. “Especially in track and field, student athletes, a lot of them face it. So I just want to tell my story and help others.”

It would be easy to see Manning’s 6-foot-4, 225-pound frame, hear the deep bass in his voice when he speaks, and think he’s a typical, towering college football player.

There is certainly some truth to this. Manning has been physically dominant on every level – a four-star rookie from Lancaster High School in Texas, an all-American junior college, and someone who stands out on a field filled with varsity athletes in Nebraska.

But Manning’s mental health issues have always been there – as a young man growing up in a tough Dallas neighborhood in high school, during his red shirt season at TCU and his two years at Kilgore Community College in Texas.

“I never noticed it. I thought it was like that,” Manning said. “But I got here and I thought, ‘Maybe that’s something else.’ So I asked for help, and that was important to me. “

The Nebraska Department of Sports Psychology, headed by Dr. Brett Haskell, was the oasis Manning needed. Haskell helped Manning understand why he felt the way he was, he said, and was there “every step of the way” as he started to turn things around.

Steven M. Sipple and Parker Gabriel deliver the final two-minute exercise Monday at Memorial Stadium.

Manning said he was nervous as he approached his first meeting with Haskell. Never before had he talked to a professional about his depression.

“Because I never knew what it was, exactly, in the past to deal with it. But it was a great experience for me,” Manning said.

The Nebraska Sports Department has invested resources in its Sports Psychology Department in recent years, adding staff and services. People like Manning are showing how this investment is paying off.

“You have to make sure, and we always will, that you are doing the right thing for student-athletes on and off the field. And that is the most important thing,” said NU coach Scott Frost. . “As a leader, we really feel like we have two basic duties: accomplishing a mission and taking care of our team. And neither is more important than the other. when someone has a real problem.

“But when there is a real problem, we want to make sure and give them the help they need.”

Frost’s willingness to be patient as Manning discovered and resolved his problems also played a role.

Manning’s breakthrough on the field came against the Oklahoma No.3, when Manning caught a 21-yard touchdown pass to go with a 32-yard grab earlier in the game.

At that point, Frost’s patience during Manning’s journey was at the core of his mind.

“When I caught that catch, I automatically thought of him. Because he’s a great coach,” Manning said. “For him to believe in me and keep pushing me, that was great for me.”

Manning has learned to be patient with himself and to ask for help even when he doesn’t feel like it. The injuries that led to a red shirt year at TCU in 2017, and essentially locked up during last year’s pandemic, made things more difficult.

Coming to Lincoln showed him a way out.

“There were a lot of things I didn’t understand,” Manning explained. “It was completely new to me. And just being completely open; completely open with it.”

Manning has been targeted seven times this season. His stats: seven catches, 132 yards, one touchdown.

That’s great and it shows that Manning can be the type of playmaker the Nebraska offense needs.

But that’s not all Manning is. To his mother, he’s just a son doing his best in the world.

“She’s proud that I’m here improving and being productive,” Manning said. “The football stuff is just a plus to add to that. But she was extremely happy, I could tell.”

Tracey Manning is totally deaf and partially blind, and raised Omar and his sister, LaKisha Potter, in Dallas. Manning said he learned sign language before he could speak and was so used to signing with his mother that he didn’t really speak to others until he was 4 or 5 years old.

When Manning calls his mother on the phone, he talks to an interpreter who then waves to his mother. Her mother signs her response to the interpreter, who passes the words on to Manning.

Tracey Manning has long been Omar’s inspiration and proudly followed his son’s journey.

“The things she was dealt with, she was resilient and strong,” Manning said. “Seeing how far he has come in his life, I had no choice but to be awesome; to do my best to move forward. “

The first stages of Manning’s return journey have been positive. Now this journey continues.

“It’s going to be a good story if he continues on the path he’s on,” Frost said. “I like to see guys fight through things and come out on the other side. And he’s on the right track to do it.”

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