DURHAM, N.C. (WTVD) -- The North Carolina Central football team hasn't taken the field since the fall of 2019 because of COVID -19 but that's not stopping one player from gaining national recognition as a university scholar-athlete.
Durham native Chuck Manning started playing football when he was 7.
"When I first saw actual football being played on TV it was just something instant," he said. "It was always it for me. It was what I wanted to do with my life."
Manning, a graduate of Riverside high school, thought he'd leave Durham and play college football elsewhere, but after his official visit, he knew NC Central was home.
"With Central being an HBCU I think it's really big," he said. "I think people don't really understand the experience that you get when you go to an HBCU. It's so much different. It's just a melting pot as far as the culture. It seemed like I was at a home away from home while all being at home at the same time."
The defensive lineman played in all 23 games in his first two seasons at Central and his success flows over into the classroom. He has a 3.9 GPA and just was named as a university scholar-athlete award recipient by the National Football Foundation's Bill Dooley Chapter.
"It really touched my heart to get this award," Manning said. "I think it's huge. Knowing that guys on the next level have received this award and not everyone does. It's kind of a standout performance and being recognized for it. That was special to me."
Manning said his ultimate goal is to play football for as long as possible.
"I've always had goals and ambitions to go to the NFL, and I'm sticking to it," he said. "I feel as though and this award being one of them is just God showing that he sent me on this path. He's brought me this far and I'm not going to stop now until I literally can't play anymore."