There are few reasons why a kid can miss school and not get in trouble.
Usually, a family emergency or a doctor’s note can get a student an excused absence.
However, if you’re a four-star Missouri wide receiver signee like Joshua Manning you might have a once-in-a-lifetime workout that can count as an excused absence.
What was special about this workout?
Well, in this particular workout, Manning would have the opportunity to be on the receiving end of passes thrown from Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes a month before he’d lead the Chiefs to their second Super Bowl win in four seasons.
“I guess it was pretty cool,” Manning said. “After the workout, I just sat down and I was like that’s really crazy. Like that whole experience 一 just getting to talk to him and run routes for him it was a special experience.
“My brother (Mizzou wide receiver Micah Manning) trained with (Penn State wide receiver) Mitchell Tinsley, but I guess his (Mitchell’s) trainer had a connection with Patrick Mahomes and he needed some receivers to throw to that day and we were the first people he texted that day,” Manning said. “So, I’m very grateful to have the opportunity. It was during the school day, so I got to miss school for it so it’s safe to say it was worth it.”
While Manning was excited to work out with the now two-time Super Bowl MVP, he actually declined the first invitation to work out with Mahomes specifically because he didn’t want to miss school.
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Fortunately for Joshua, it happened to be a twice-in-a-lifetime workout.
“So, this happened on a Wednesday (Jan. 11) and he (Micah) went on a Monday (Jan. 9), and I didn’t want to skip school for it,” Joshua said. “Then, I realized on Monday night and Tuesday that I should’ve went. So, they needed us back on Wednesday and I was like ‘yeah there’s no way I’m missing it this time.’”
Joshua’s dad, Brian, who played wide receiver at Stanford and played two seasons in the NFL, said typically he wouldn’t want his son missing school, but training with the reigning league MVP can also be a teaching moment for his son.
“Of course that has weight,” Brian said. “And I care a lot about school, but I also care about those kinds of opportunities. They don’t come often. So, Micah was pretty excited and I guess Josh couldn’t bypass the second time around.”
Joshua said the 90-minute workout was a few towns over in Overland Park, Kansas at an undisclosed location.
Not only were Joshua and Micah joined by Mizzou wide receiver Logan Muckey, tight end Max Whisner and running back Anthony Favrow, but by a Netflix crew.
The crew was there to follow Mahomes, who will star in the new Netflix docuseries, Quarterback, set to premiere this summer.
The docuseries will be focusing on the 2022 seasons of Mahomes, Minnesota Vikings quarterback Kirk Cousins and former Atlanta Falcons quarterback Marcus Mariota.
However, despite working out in front of his new future teammates, an NFL superstar and a series of cameras, Joshua said he was on his game that day even though he had some nerves.
“I was definitely nervous because it’s still Patrick Mahomes, but I felt like at the end of the day when he threw the ball up I kind of lost it and I just locked in,” Joshua said. “Just caught the ball and kept doing that. … I didn’t drop any passes that day. I’m not going to lie, I was locked in.”
Handling pressure of being from a sports family
The pressure of performing decently with an NFL superstar in their prime can be a lot, but Joshua’s whole life has been built around pressure and expectations.
Joshua not only comes from a football family but a family full of athletes.
As previously mentioned his older brother Micah is already at Mizzou and his dad played in the NFL. His mother, Roxanne, was a member of the 1999 Colorado State basketball team alongside 2023 Naismith Basketball Hall of fame inductee Becky Hammon that reached the Sweet 16, and his other older brother, Caleb, is an NJCAA All-American at Hutchinson C.C. and this is just Joshua’s immediate family.
He has more family that played collegiate sports, so he knows there’s an expectation not only from the outside world, but from himself, to perform.
His head coach at Lee’s Summit, Eric Thomas, said Joshua handled the pressure well and will continue to when he goes to Missouri.
“I didn’t really see it through the season of him putting a lot of pressure on himself,” Thomas said. “He just kept making plays and did a great job for us. Going to the next level at Missouri is going to be a big thing for him to be able to handle.
“He’s got cousins out in Oregon, he’s got cousins playing basketball out at K-State, you’ve got Micah, his dad played in the NFL. They’re a great athletic family, but he’ll succeed. He’s going to be great.”
In his senior season, Joshua used every bit of his 6-foot-4, 195-pound frame to record 73 receptions for 1,003 yards and 17 touchdowns.
Joshua said he knew around six years old when he was dominating his flag football league that he was more athletically gifted than other kids, but his dad said he knew Joshua would be special before he could even walk.
“When he was a baby crawling around the house, climbing up the stairs, and he wasn’t a typical baby that crawled on all fours,” Brian said. “He was just fast and he started crawling and he’d crawl on his feet and on his palms. And I was like ‘This guy is going to be fast.’
“Some people bloom late. Like I was a late bloomer. I kind of popped in high school, but he’s always been kind of special. Which is different. He popped in height in high school, but he’s always been special athletically.”
Joshua said he sees his athletic family tree as more of a blessing than a curse and feels he has an upper hand that most athletes don’t. However, he still knows that his genes can only take him so far.
“I feel like I’ve been put in a position where I have more of an advantage but I feel like at the end of the day I’ve still got to make plays and put in the work,” Joshua said.
Developing at the next level
Thomas just finished year 13 as the head coach at Lee’s Summit and he has coached some elite talent during his tenure.
This includes Seattle Seahawks and former Missouri quarterback Drew Lock, as well as former Kansas State defensive end Felix Anudike-Uzomah, who should hear his name called on one of the first two days of the upcoming NFL Draft.
But in Thomas’ eyes, Joshua may surpass them as far as the best players he’s ever coached when you combine his on-the-field talent and how he handles himself off the field.
“We’ve had some good ones come through Lee’s Summit and he’s right there with all of them,” Thomas said. “He’s a three-time all-state player, but the best thing about it is that he’s one of the best pure kids that I’ve ever had the pleasure to coach.
“His classmates love him, his teachers love him, everybody at school just loves the kid. That’s the best thing I can say about him. He’s not that guy who thinks he’s better than everybody else.”
Ultimately, Joshua is hoping to make it to the NFL like his father and possibly be on the receiving end of some Mahomes passes on a regular basis in a few years.
But first, he has to head to Columbia and through his true freshman campaign with the Tigers this summer where he hopes to simply develop and get better at the things he’s discussed with Mizzou wide receivers coach, Jacob Peeler, and head coach Eli Drinkwitz.
“They like my playmaking ability and ability to create explosive plays but I have to work on not showing my routes and just be harder to predict,” Joshua said. “I want to get better and compete and that’s all I can really ask for. Just improve and keep building so I’m ready when my time comes.”
Manning is expected to arrive in Columbia at the end of May and will be one of four four-star signees from the class of 2023 when the Tigers kick off their season versus South Dakota in week one on Sept. 2.
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