Special to the E-T
Tarleton State University’s Zimari Manning has been named the Lone Star Conference Male Athlete of the Year, the first Texan male athlete to win the award since 2003.
The awards were announced Thursday following a vote of the league's sports information directors.
Manning becomes the third Texan male athlete to win the LSC's top award and the fifth athlete in Tarleton history. Other TSU winners were: Olan Coleman, 2003 (football/track & field); Steve Kelly, 2002 (football); Isabel Jimenez, 2016 (women's golf); and Carla Cooper, 2011 (women's golf).
Manning, who signed a free agent contract with the Denver Broncos in April, is coming off one of the greatest single seasons and two-year careers in the history of Tarleton football.
Manning finished third in the Harlon Hill voting — an award given to the nation's top player in NCAA Division II — and made Tarleton and national history in the process. He collected 93 total votes (10 first-place votes, 19 second, 25 third). Manning's third-place finish marked the highest showing for a wide receiver since Pittsburg State's Ronnie West won the award in 1991 — the only WR to ever win the Harlon Hill.
The five-time All-American is the first player in Tarleton history to be a finalist for the award.
Last year, Manning played in all 12 games for Tarleton and led the Texans to their second consecutive undefeated regular season and Lone Star Conference Championship. In his two-year career with the Texans, Manning and the Texans posted an overall win-loss record of 23-2.
He hauled in 68 receptions for a school-record 1,462 yards and 22 touchdowns. His 22 scores set a new Tarleton single-season record, tied the LSC record, and led all of NCAA football (Division I, II, and III). Through the regular season, Manning led all of college football at any level in yards and touchdowns.
Manning had 100 yards receiving in seven of the 12 games last season, including a 257-yard performance at UT Permian Basin that earned him D2Football.com National Player of the Week honors. He scored at least one touchdown in 10 straight games starting against Doane on Sept. 14, including eight games with multiple scores and four games with three touchdowns.
His on-field accomplishments have led to him becoming the only Texan to be named to five different All-America teams in Tarleton history. Manning was also named the D2CCA and Don Hansen Super Region 4 Offensive Player of the Year, the first in Tarleton history to win the award from each entity. He's also received the LSC Wide Receiver of the Year and first team All-LSC.