Jorden Manu sat in a car parked outside of Walmart when his phone rang. It was no spam call. The person on the other end offered him a full scholarship to play football for the University of Nevada.
A class of 2022 prospect, Manu, is a 6-foot-3, 320-pound defensive tackle for Lakes High School in Lakewood, Washington, south of Tacoma, someone drawing plenty of attention. Football guides him now. Scholarship offers motivate him. That wasn't always the case.
“I used to hang around the wrong crowd,” Manu admitted.
Since last year, football has become his new best friend. He surrounds himself only with people who encourage him to be his best on and off the field. One of them is Lakes coach Dave Miller, who has helped steer him down this better pathway.
“He told me that if I stick with the right crowd, focus on me and focus on school, then I would be all right,” Manu said.
He's actually doing much better than just all right. The rising junior carries a 3.0 grade point and has been working hard in both the classroom and the weight room during the COVID-19 pandemic.
While dedicating his time to football, he's noticed a shift in his perspective on life. He wants to succeed. He wants to stay in the classroom after the bell rings to get help in classes in which he struggles. He uses his free time to develop closer friendships with teammates.
Manu reaches out to the Lakes coaches to see if he can help make any improvements within the team. He constantly checks on his teammates to make sure everyone is doing well.
After making a lot of adjustments in his life, Manu saw positive results almost immediately on the football field. As a sophomore, he played in every Friday night game.
“I took his advice and, well, it worked for me,” said Manu, referring to coach Miller.
He also relies on a sturdy support system that surrounds him as he navigates this new idea presented to him that's called recruiting. His older brother has been a guiding force, helping him figure things out.
“He puts effort and time into me,” said Manu, who realizes that realistically he can likely count on going to college for free.
Since Nevada was first to offer him, Manu has been steadily climbing the recruiting rankings in his class. He's considered a top 20 Washington player. He's not satisfied with that.
He wants to see how many scholarship offers he can attract, including drawing one from the University of Washington if possible. It's all positive for him now.
“I want to be a better person, on and off the field,” Manu said.