Redshirt sophomore linebacker Terrell Manning was arguably the top player in the state of North Carolina coming out of Scotland County High School in Laurinburg in the class of 2008. He was part of a fierce recruiting battle that included UNC, among many other schools.
If anyone would be on cloud nine after the 29-25 victory over North Carolina last Saturday, it would be Manning, who had eight total tackles, including three for loss, during the game, and also made the game-clinching sack on UNC quarterback T.J. Yates in the end zone for a safety with 27 seconds left in the contest.
Manning, though, has already moved onto the next game, this Saturday's showdown at Maryland with a trip to the ACC championship game Dec. 4 in Charlotte, N.C., on the line.
"It's always nice to hear the talk about beating Carolina, but we know we are definitely moving on," Manning said. "We have bigger goals ahead, and that's what we got to accomplish right now.
"It was big, but at the same time there can always be a bigger moment in the game coming up. We are playing for a lot more at stake right now. Then we were playing to stay alive. Now we are playing for the whole thing. Right now, all the marbles are on the table and we have to make stuff happen."
Manning has started to blossom into the player that many recruiting analysts expected him to be when he signed with NC State. He tore his ACL during the state playoffs his senior year. The rehab forced him to redshirt the 2008 season at NC State. Last year, he showed flashes while making 48 total tackles in 12 games, including two starts.
He has started all 11 games this year and has made 67 tackles, 10 tackles for loss, five sacks, four quarterback hurries, two pass breakups, two forced fumbles, a pair of fumble recoveries and an interception.
Manning will be tested by a versatile Maryland offense led by the ACC's probable Rookie of the Year in quarterback Danny O'Brien, a redshirt freshman.
"Maryland is a very, very good team," Manning said. "I am very impressed with what I have seen on film. They are one of the teams that can do a lot of things that some other teams can't do. They have the personnel to run wishbone. They run a lot of the V-Tech stuff. They basically mimic a lot of other teams, so right now we are seeing all the stuff we have seen this year in one package."
With so much on the line, Thanksgiving break could be a blessing in disguise for NC State with most students leaving campus. Manning, though, insists he can block out any distractions.
"Whether they are off campus or not I am going to be focused on football," Manning said. "It's a very big week for me, a very big time in my life right now, so I have to embrace it and try to make something happen."