Anyone following Chris Manno’s Twitter account over the last few months knew it would only be a matter of time before the Sachem alum latched onto another NFL team.
His tireless efforts were answered Friday when he signed a free-agent contract with the Carolina Panthers, according to multiple football sources.
"So I had to wait for it to be released but it's true, I am now a proud Carolina Panther!," Manno wrote on Twitter. "So blessed and excited to be a part of such an up and coming, exciting franchise. Looking so forward to getting to work, I give you all my word I will work as hard as possible to earn the respect of my peers and the great Carolina fans."
Manno, who graduated from Sachem in 2003 and went to Hofstra, spent training camp with the Kansas City Chiefs last year before being released prior to the start of the regular season. He has been working out at IMG Sports Academy in Bradenton, Fla. the last two months.
Interestingly, he has a previous relationship with Panthers quarterback Cam Newton, who has also worked out at IMG.
Manno, who already became the fifth Sachem alum in history to be associated with an NFL team last season, is now just the second to be linked with two teams, joining Jumbo Elliott, Class of ’83, who played for the Giants and Jets. Brian Bravy (Falcons), Doug Shanahan (Jets) and Ed Nielson (Bears) are the other Sachem alums to try out or play with NFL clubs.
Manno saw brief action in two of the three pre-season games he dressed for with the Chiefs. During his debut against Tampa Bay he was in on special teams a handful of times. He didn't see the field in Week 2 against Baltimore and had two plays under his belt against the Rams in his other action.
He played college football at Hofstra, spending two seasons as a walk-on before earning a scholarship. He only caught 25 passes for 233 yards (9.3 average) with the Pride, but shined on special teams and became one of the hardest working individuals on the roster. He was surrounded by future NFL players Marques Colston (Saints), Willie Colon (Steelers), Kyle Arrington (Patriots) and Devale Ellis (formerly with Lions) with the Pride.
Manno, who worked out for former NFL head coach Jim Mora Sr. two falls ago to get some pointers, originally was offered a private workout with the Philadelphia Soul of the Arena Football League in 2009, but the league folded. That brought him to the now-defunct AFL 2, where he caught 70 passes for 10 touchdowns en route to All-Pro honors with the New Jersey Revolution.
At 5-foot-11, 185 pounds, Manno isn’t going to run anyone over, but his 4.46 time in the 40-yard dash and willingness to outsmart opponents in pressure situations has proven key for him. He also has a gift for marketing, creating his own NFL combine videos and putting them on a customized Chris Manno YouTube Channel to show his ability.
RotoWorld.com has Manno listed as the eighth receiver on the depth chart for the Panthers behind players like Steve Smith, Seyi Ajirotutu, Armanti Edwards and Darvin Adams.
Manno will still need to make the 53-man roster out of training camp, but he'll have an opportunity to spend an entire off-season with one NFL team.
As of 9:00 p.m. on Saturday, the Panthers did not have any information about Manno on their website. He is, however, listed on the ESPN NFL bio page for Carolina (see gallery for his bio image).
"Man what a crazy, awesome, blessed couple days," Manno said later on Saturday night via Twitter. "Never been more pumped and focused. What a great situation I'm in. Thank you Panthers org."