October 8, 2003

Markus Manson names top four

Hillcrest High School star running back Markus Manson is a hard person to chase down on and off the field.

The 6-foot, 190-pound Tuscaloosa, Alabama native is known for his big-play ability as well as his introverted nature.

On Tuesday, BamaOnLine.com caught up with the soft-spoken Manson on the practice field.

"I've mainly focused on my senior season," Manson said when asked about the recruiting process. "I have not gone to any games but I probably will later. I'm not thinking much about recruiting right now."

College coaches from around the nation have flocked to Tuscaloosa in hopes of getting a shot at the speedy running back.

Manson, who is one of the South's most coveted prospects and rated four-stars by Rivals.com, tells BamaOnLine.com that he is currently focused on four schools, and don't look for him to go too far away from home with National Signing Day rolls around in early February.

"My top four are Alabama, Auburn, Florida and Georgia. Those are my overall favorites," he said.

"The main thing for me is that the coach is honest with me and I will be with him as well," commented Manson. "There has to be a certain trust and respect between both of us. I really don't want to go far from home and I would like to have an opportunity to play early."

While Manson is far from a lock to sign with Alabama, the Crimson Tide is going to be very tough to beat for his signature.

"I like the way they run their backs but also use them out of the backfield," Manson said of the Tide. "Coach [Mike] Shula is working hard over there and he is doing a good job, they've just had some bad breaks.

"I'm not worried about their struggles this year," he added. "It just makes me realize that there is early playing time available at Alabama."

If Manson doesn't land in Tuscaloosa, Auburn and Georgia would be the most likely candidates to land his signature.

"Auburn runs the ball a lot. I like coach [Eddie] Gran and [Tommy] Tuberville, and it's not too far from home," he said. "Georgia's offense is wide open and it looks like it would be fun to play in. Coach [Rodney] Garner told me that they are looking for a big back like me because they have any on their team."

Florida is also receiving serious consideration. "They don't use their backs as much as some of the other schools but they are a fun team and they are located in a nice place. I went for a visit and it was okay," Manson said of the Gators.

Manson plans to make the most of his athletic talents. "I need to get bigger and stronger for college and I'm trying to do that now, and after the season that will be my top priority, he said.

Hillcrest head coach Bart Harper says it is easy to see why Manson is one of the most coveted backs in the south.

"Markus has power and speed," Harper noted. "When he sees a hole he really hits it and he tough in the middle.

"Markus is a great kid and the best thing about him is what you see is what you get," he added. "He's a very special person and athlete who works hard to be the best. He doesn't take anything for granted."

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