Centrals Donaldven Manning beats the odds

mcneir | 12/28/2011, 4:30 a.m.

Donaldven Manning, 19, was born and raised in Liberty City and is the fifth of five children. After a stellar career at Miami Central Senior High School where he was a leading defensive player he recently received several pieces of good news. First, he will become the first in his family to attend college with a football scholarship at Virginia Tech. Not bad for someone who was once told he was too small to play defense. And while Central did not repeat its winning ways in this years state finals, Manning has something else to celebrate. He will be leaving in a few days for Phoenix, Arizona and the first annual Semper Fidelis All-American Bowl. One hundred of the nations elite high school football players will face off in a traditional East versus West gridiron matchup. Manning was all smiles as he discussed his future. It feels great right now and even though we lost, we still returned to the big dance in Orlando, he said. We fought hard and refused to lay down. Going to the All-American Bowl will give me the chance to compete against other athletes at a higher level of play. But were playing with a purpose too showing our Marines that we love and respect them while hopefully giving them an exciting game that they will never forget. When speaking of his coach he says, We have a great relationship he keeps me out of trouble when I am feeling lost and is like a father that never turns his back on me." His mother, Patricia Tyson, 43, agrees. "You can tell the special bond he [Lockette] has with his boys," she said. "He disciplines them and as a single parent it meant a lot to me to have a male figure helping me with my son a man that could be respected. My first goal is to make sure all of the seniors are taken care of and have opportunities to attend college in the fall, Lockette said. Donaldven is one of 17 seniors nine are already committed to college programs. By the grace of God we will have them all signed soon. As for Donaldven, the sky is the limit. Hes a great kid and as a coach you want to help your young men move from this impoverished area." The Marines have joined forces with JuniorRank to put on this first bowl game. According to Sgt. Scott M. Schmidt, both organizations were looking for young men with character, physical fitness and academic achievement. Manning will be joined by other Florida players including: Justin Ferguson, Flanagan High; James Burgess, Homestead High; David Thompson, Westminster Christian; Marshall Morgan, American Heritage; and Teko Powell, Norland High. By D. Kevin McNeirkmcneir@miamitimesonline.com